Homicide Support Project

In 1990, in collaboration with the Seattle Police Department, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and the King County Medical Examiner's Office, Virginia Mason’s Dr. Edward Rynearson and his staff started contacting every family who experienced a homicidal death in the greater Seattle area. Following a model of community outreach, we offered an initial home visit to make our engagement less stressful. At the end of that initial visit, we offered the family a more formal family assessment and intervention.

Dr. Rynearson, one of the founders of the Support Project for Unnatural Dying, was one of the first psychiatrists to study and publish the clinical description of homicidal bereavement (1984). Also in 1990, the Support Project for Unnatural Dying was awarded Washington State Victims of Crime Assistance funding (VOCA), which has been renewed on an annual basis since that time. These funds have covered the expenses of providing direct services to co-victims of homicide.

The Homicide Support Project (HSP) at Virginia Mason was created in 1998 to bring together multi-services teams in major U.S. cities who work with families and friends of homicide victims. In addition, the HSP provides these teams with training in building community networks and in facilitating focused short term individual as well as group treatment specific to the needs of people suffering traumatic grief. To date, the HSP has sites in 15 major U.S. cities.

The Need for the Homicide Support Project
Homicide Support Project Program Goals