In 2014, an estimated 11,961 people were murdered in the United States.i This is almost a 15% decrease from 2005.ii
Most (almost 77%) of the people killed in 2014 were male.iii Of the female murder victims for whom their relationship with the offender was known, almost 66% were the wife or girlfriend of the person who killed them.iv
Homicide disproportionately impacts people of color. Black men age 15-34 are 10 times more likely than white men to be murdered.v
i U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2012). Expanded homicide data. Retrieved fromhttps://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/expanded-homicide-data/expanded_homicide_data_table_1_murder_victims_by_race_ethnicity_and_sex_2014.xls
ii U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2012). Expanded homicide data. Retrieved from
iii U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2012). Expanded homicide data. Retrieved from
iv U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2012). Expanded homicide data. Retrieved from
v U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2012). Expanded homicide data. Retrieved from
When a loved one dies of natural causes, it can be very difficult. When a loved one’s death was caused by a person’s intentional decision or careless act, trying to understand and cope with the loss can be much more challenging. The loss is sudden, unexpected, and brings up a lot of intense responses in the victim’s surviving loved ones. Family and friends are often left wondering why their loved one was killed and what their loved one’s final moments alive were like.
When a loved one has died because of someone else’s decisions, the victim’s family (who are sometimes called “co-victims,” “homicide survivors,” or “murder victim family members”) and friends go through some of the same responses as people who are direct victims of non-fatal crimes (see the “Impact of Crime” section of this website for more information). These responses can be intense. These reactions can happen whether a person witnessed the murder of their loved one or was not there when their loved one was killed.
These reactions may be even more intense when a child is murdered. It’s not the natural order for a child to die before his or her parent. This is especially true if the death was caused by the actions of another person. If a child was murdered, the victim’s brothers and sisters will probably have strong reactions too.
Family members of people who have been killed are the victims most likely to interact with the criminal or juvenile justice system.i Victims have to quickly learn about the investigative, prosecutorial, and judiciary branches of the criminal or juvenile justice system. The language and terms used by the justice system can be confusing. You can download a glossary of some of the most commonly-used justice terms here.
Your loved one may be struggling with these additional considerations and interaction with the justice system. Throughout Oregon, there are system-based victim advocates who can provide designated crime victims with information about the case or the convicted offender; help victims understand and exercise their rights as a crime victim; and provide referrals to assistance in the community. Click here to find the city or county victim assistance program in the county where the case is being handled.
Homicide disproportionately impacts people of color and communities of color. The leading cause of death for African American men age 15-34 is homicide.ii This has a deep impact on communities: in a Chicago study, approximately 25% of Black children witnessed a person shot and 29% had seen a stabbing.iii After one of the children participating in this study described the violent deaths of seven close family members, an eight-year-old remarked that "just" three people in her family had died violently.iv
The communities most impacted by violence, though, often have the least access to resources to prevent violence and help people rebuild their lives. Racism is still a reality that creates barriers to people being able to access vital support. People of color often experience unequal access to services; services that are not culturally-appropriate; language barriers; distrust of law enforcement; and encountering assumptions, stereotypes, and even racist views from the practitioners and systems designed to help.
i C. Ellis & J. Harris Lord, Office for Victims of Crime, Homicide, National Victim Assistance Academy Text (2002).
ii Retrieved from
iii Retrieved from
iv Retrieved from