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Suicide and Domestic Violence

While experts easily agree that substance abuse, mental health issues, economic status, and childhood experiences intersect with domestic violence, often suicide is overlooked as having a correlative relationship with abuse. Similarly to domestic violence, suicide is an issue in society which hides in the darkness, rarely discussed, but quietly impacting members of the community. The most recent research shows that suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013 (CDC, 2015). While the rate of suicide is high, incidents of suicide or attempted suicide are higher for those who experience domestic violence, with 23 percent of survivors having attempted suicide, compared to 3 percent among populations with no prior domestic violence exposure (Domestic Shelters, 2016).

It is equally important to note that there is a strong connection between suicide and exposure to domestic violence in childhood. “Those who grow up with domestic violence are 6 times more likely to commit suicide and 50% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol” (CDVA, 2014). Since youth are the population group most at risk for suicide, it is important that prevention efforts acknowledge and focus on the role domestic violence may play in suicide.

A clear correlation is drawn between incidents of domestic violence and suicide attempts; however, the vast majority of domestic violence programs and suicide prevention efforts do not connect the two, leaving those who fall into these categories with little understanding of their connection. “When each field isn’t educated about the other, the results can be deadly” (Clay, 2014). Within the community, both domestic violence and suicide prevention have been addressed independently, but Intersections seeks to bring these two efforts together. It is the goal to not only understand the intersections of domestic violence and suicide, but to promote the tools and resources available to the community for both domestic violence and suicide prevention.

Throughout the implementation of Intersections, DVN will bring together agencies and community members who work on these issues in order to find common ground and collaborate on finding opportunities to work together and serve those who are at risk for both.

As DVN leads a community conversation on the intersection between domestic violence and suicide, the following topics will be explored:

  • Understanding suicide as a community issue
  •  Intersection between suicide and domestic violence
  • Services available to those who attempt suicide
  • Suicide prevention steps for service providers
  • Youth and suicide