Murder-Suicide At Highest Levels of Decade

Medical Examiner report identifies bath salts as the new killer

By Brandi Powell and Lauren Steussy
|  Monday, Jul 16, 2012  |  Updated 5:36 PM PDT
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Victims of Coronado Murder-Suicide

Bath salts were identified by the Medical Examiner as San Diego's newest killer.

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There were more murder suicides in 2011 than in the past decade, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's new report.

In 2011, there 11 cases of murder-suicide, with a total of 28 deaths as a result of the incident. By comparison, in 2010, the ME reported four cases of murder-suicide, with a total of eight deaths. From the start of the decade, this is the highest number of murder-suicide cases and victims.

The office has been keeping record of the numbers since the late-80s, but didn't account for population growth until 2001.

The report also identified bath salts as a new threat in 2011. The synthetic drugs that tout cocaine-like effects were linked to three deaths in the county.

After seeing the problems with bath salts nation-wide, the ME told NBC 7 they got special equipment this past year to test for it.

As for prescription drugs, the report indicated these particular deaths are double now what they were a decade ago. This is especially so among teens, according to a county study released last week.

The report also found that suicides are still up, as they have been over the past five years.

Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas told NBC 7 that because of that, it's not entirely surprising that murder-suicides in San Diego are at their highest rate ever, as well.

"The numbers are very small and I'd be overstepping to say that there's definitely copy cat phenomenon," Lucas said. "But, it is intriguing to see that these did follow each other in time."

There is a piece of what the Medical Examiner called good news. No children under 15 died in 2011 in a car accident.

However that won't be the case for 2012, as two children died Sunday in a car crash.

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