On the face it, April is no different to any other month of the year. It doesn’t have any additional full moons, it has the average thirty days and most years Easter falls during this month. So why then is there a global phenomenon that considers the month of April ‘the killing season’?
Already this year, during the month of April, multiple fatal stabbings have taken place across London. Although fatal violence is nothing new, the upsurge of knife violence in London at this time of year has become very noticeable to all. It’s almost as if the violent undercurrent in society hibernates over winter and surfaces much like a hungry and grumpy bear at the first signs of spring.
Some are asking whether it is possible that as populations grow, concentrated crime becomes more visible. It leads to the question that if handguns hadn’t been banned in the UK in 1997, would there be more gunshot deaths rather than deaths from stabbings? This is often the case across the pond in the USA, where over 300 people are shot each day.
It would appear that the increase in killings that take place in April are influenced by several factors. The first is Copycat killings. Timothy McVeigh who famously blew up the FBI building in Oklahoma claimed to be taking vengeance for the Waco Siege in Texas that came to a gruesome end, yes you guessed it – in April. Several others have used dates in April such as Hitler’s birthday, or events such as Waco and Oklahoma to reason out their choice of timing.
That however doesn’t explain the other killings that also take place in April as if some switch in the sky gets flicked back and forth as the change of seasons threaten to emerge. There are those that argue that gruesome killings take place all year round, it does nevertheless seem to be a more common occurrence in April and this is nothing new. Abraham Lincoln was murdered in April as was Martin Luther King Jr.
April provides an Aladdin’s cave of historical dates for the angry murderer to choose his moment of madness. Perhaps that’s the reason there appears to be a reluctance to formally research what has become an obvious phenomenon. April is most definitely the killing season.
It is also interesting to note that September also experiences a spike in violent fatalities, mostly through knives as well. Since this is the end of summer and another seasonal turn, perhaps there is a relationship between the change of seasons and violent human behaviour. While gangs exist all year round, there is no seasonal cull on police officers on the beat that would explain this otherwise; the old jokes about not going out during full moon or new moon phases may become a new reality.
If the onset of warmer weather is what brings killers outdoors, the figures show us that in fact wherever you are in the world, April is the month that you are most likely to be murdered. It’s not just about death, it’s about the fact that conscious intentional taking of life occurs more often at this time of year than any other.
Police forces in the large cities around the world and crime experts brace themselves as April approaches in the hope that they are wrong about this. So far, they haven’t been. We’re a long way from working out exactly why it happens in April, but the facts and figures tell us that it does- and there’s no avoiding it. It happens like clockwork, year after year.