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6th International Congress of the WAIMH

Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 13-15, 999

WAR RELATED STRESS FACTORS – IMPACT ON HOMICIDE OFFENCES

Alija SUTOVIĆ (1) Osman SINANOVIĆ, (2) Wayne ANDERSON

1Department for Psychiatry, Universiy Clinical Center, Faculty of Medicine of the Tuzla University, 75 000 Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Columbia, USA

The war in Bosnia has made significant impact on homicide offences. The country was divided; many parts of the country were submitted to ‘ethnic cleansing’ and people become a subject of genocide. Even those parts of the country under the rule of legitimate and official Bosnian Government were separated and actually isolated one from other. Inside those areas, life (and homicides, too) developed in different way. Present study covers, for the period 1984-1991 and 1992-1993, all cases of intentional homicide, and all cases of violence resulting in death in the Tuzla region (excluding homicide by misadventure), which were the subject of forensic-psychiatric expertise. Two samples with 50 cases in each were formed; ‘pre-war’ and ‘war’ samples. From the Law’s point of view, both samples are the same. In each of the cases we had requested the Court and had visited offenders in prison. Social-demographic data, some criminological and some clinical characteristics, as well as some circumstances surrounding the event were statistically analysed. Before the war, 66% of homicides happened during the cold months; during winter or early spring. During the war, 70% homicide offences occurred during summer and autumn. Almost a half of the pre-war homicides (48%) took place over the weekends, while during the war distribution over the week was equal on all days. One of the biggest differences is the weapon or the method used for homicide: firearms were used in 84 homicides during the war, while in 82 cases before the war killers had used sharp instruments, assault, or an axe. Samples were compared by presence of sleep deprivation and stressful life events, as typical war related conditions, but the same were found in the pre-war samples. The role of alcohol in homicides is especially emphasised and positive association between alcohol and many other variables is mentioned.

Key words: War – Stress – Homicide

References:

  1. Lester D (1993) The effect of War on Crime. Psychological Reports 73:381-382.
  2. O’Brien SL (1994) What will be the Psychiatric Consequences of the War in Bosnia? Br J Psychiatry, 164: 443-447.
  3. Sutović A (1996) Clinical and Psycho-diagnostic Characteristics of Soldiers with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Master thesis. School of Medicine, University of Tuzla (Mentor: Osman Sinanović, M.D,Ph.D.)

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