2010

Objective: Family carers of people with dementia have higher than average rates of suicidal ideation, but there has been no research on homicidal ideation in this population. The aim of this study was to explore thoughts of homicide in family carers of people with dementia. Method: A descriptive qualitative approach was taken. Twenty-one Australian carers (7 men, 14 women) participated in individual, in-depth interviews and the transcripts were alysed thematically. Results: Seven themes were identified in the data – active thoughts of homicide; understanding homicidal thoughts in others; passive thoughts of death; euthasia; homicidal thoughts in other caregiving situations; abuse; and disclosing thoughts of harm. Two of the 21 participants had actively contemplated the homicide of their care recipient, four expressed a passive desire for the care recipient's death, and four reported physically or verbally abusing the care recipient. Only one carer had previously disclosed these experiences. Conclusion: Homicidal ideation is a real and significant phenomenon among family carers of people with dementia. Service providers and health professiols are encouraged to identify and support carers contemplating homicide, but to do so in a way that recognises the broader social context of carer burden.