I guess it's the time of year, but I'm reading a lot of stories involving murder, suicide, homicide, regicide, basically lots of death and destruction. Of course, this is the most dramatic type of story conflict. But...
An author's job is to manipulate the reader's emotions. Thus, the way to make a death a powerful story element is to make the reader care about the character before the death. I'm reading quite a few stories which thrust the death upon the reader not unlike they thrust the sword into the character--quickly, suddenly, and before we care.
How do you make a reader care? Create a realistic empathetic character. This is a character that cares about other characters and that has other characters care about him/her. Readers love an underdog, they love a character that keeps trying even when the odds are against them. There are also writerly tricks in the 'save the cat' variety: save the cat, baby, puppy from harm.
So, sure, write your murder and mayhem, but don't forget to write empathy first.