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Violence in Jamaica: an analysis of homicides 1998–2002
  1. G Lemard,
  2. D Hemenway
  1. Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr G Lemard
 Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Room 314B, Boston, MA 02115, USA; glemard{at}


The aim of the study was to create a profile of Jamaican homicide victims and to describe the circumstances, motives, and the weapons used in homicide incidents. The authors read the police narratives for all Jamaican homicides 1998–2002 and coded them using a predetermined set of variables. Analyses were conducted to describe victim characteristics, motive, and weapon use. The majority of homicide victims were male (over 89%), and 15–44 years old (80%). The rate of homicide for males age 15–44 years was 121 per 100 000 compared with a rate of 12 per 100 000 for females in the same age group. The main motives for homicide were disputes (29%) and reprisals (30%). Gunshot wounds were the cause of death in 66% of all homicides. Guns were used primarily in reprisals, robbery, and drug/gang related homicides; in half of all dispute related homicides the perpetrator used a knife. Homicides in Jamaica are not primarily gang or robbery related. Rather, they are mainly caused by arguments or reprisals. Homicide has become a common feature of dispute resolution in Jamaica.

  • violence
  • homicide
  • guns
  • Jamaica

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  • Funding: this research was supported in part by Grant/Cooperative Agreement U49/CCR422425-01 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents of the publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. The CDC had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, in the writing of the report, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests: none.

  • Ethics approval: this research was deemed exempt from IRB approval by the Human Subjects Committee at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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