DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SUICIDE
An Executive Summary of Published Studies
« Suicide prevention is violence prevention »
- Intimate partner violence is associated with suicide. A large California study found that 40% of perpetrators committed suicide subsequent to the homicide. (.Lund L E and Smorodinsky S, 2001)
Recent suicidal behavior is often
an indication of pending violence toward others (Buteau, Lesa and Kiely,
In one study, 65% of female survivors of a spouse suicide had experienced some form of abuse (Constantino and Sutton, 1997).
- In a study of alcohol abusers, 1/3 of those with suicide attempts had a positive history for domestic violence toward spouses (Bergman and Brismar, 1994).
- Murder-suicide between spouses and lovers represents one-half to three-fourths of all murder-suicides in the United States (Dorpat, 1966; Palmer and Humphrey, 1980; Allen, 1983; Current et al., 1991).
- Half of all filicides (murder of children age 1 through 16) and infanticides (children under the age of one year), are perpetrated by a parent, most often the mother (Adelson, 1991; Myers, 1970; Resnick, 1969). Following the murder, 16 to 29% of the mothers commit suicide, while 40 to 60% of the fathers do so (Adleson, 1991; Myers, 1970; Rodenburg, 1971; Wiley, Pearn, Petric and Nixon, 1982; d’Orban, 1979).
- Women exposed to acute or prior domestic violence were more likely than unexposed women to have made suicide attempts (Abbott, et al, 1995).
- Suicide risk is increased in victims of domestic violence (Yellowless & Kaushik, 1994).<
- Two studies have found that battered women have a suicide attempt rate of between 20 and 26% (Mehta and Dandrea, 1988; Hillard, 1985).
- Violent family interactions are a significant variable in youth suicide and completions (Kosky, 1983).
- It has been estimated that at least 30% of violent people have a history of self-destructive behavior; whereas 20% of suicidal persons have a history of violence (van Praag, Plutchik, and Apter, 1990).
- Murder-suicides frequently represent the culmination of a chaotic, abusive relationship (Selkin, 1976; Berman, 1979; Shepard, 1961).
- Bitter conflict, morbid jealousy, verbal abuse and sub-lethal violence typically precede murder-suicide (Dorpat, 1966; Berman 1979; Allen, 1983).
- Between 19 and 26% of male spouse murderers commit suicide, whereas only 3% of female spouse murderers do so.
- Most female spouse murders follow a history of domestic abuse (Marzuk, Tardiff and Hirsch, 1992b).
- Men who kill their wives and lovers usually do so in response to the woman’s attempt to leave an abusive relationship (Browne, 1987; Wilbanks, 1983).
- Separation was a factor in more than 57% of male-perpetrated acts of domestic violence which precipitated a murder-suicide (1996).
- Double suicides are often motivated by the couples’ fear of separation and the fantasy that they can remain together in death (Rosen, 1981).
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Lund L E and Smorodinsky S., Violent Death Among Intimate Partners: a Comparison of Homicide and Homicide Followed by Suicide in California Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, v.31, no.4, (Winter 2001), p.451-459
Buteau J, Lesage AD, Kiely MC. Homicide followed by suicide: A Quebec case series, 1988 – 1990. Can J Psychiatry 1993; 389:552-556.
Constantino RE, Sutton L B, et al, Holistic Nursing Practice, v.11, no.2, (1997), p 60-68, 1997.
Bergman B, Brismar B, Alcohol & Alcoholism, v.29, no.4, (1994), p. 451-457, 1994.
Dorpat TL, Suicide in murderers. Psychiatry Digest 1966;27(6):51-55.
Palmer S. Humphrey JA. Offender-victim relationships in criminal homicide followed by offender’s suicide, North Carolina, 1972-1977. Suicide Life-Threat Behavior 1980 10:106-118.
Allen NH. Homicide followed by suicide: Los Angeles, 1970-1979. Suicide Life-Threat Behavior 1983; 13:155-165.
Adelson L. Pedicide revisited: The slaughter continues. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 1991; 12:16-26.
Myers SA. Maternal filicide, Am J Dis Child 1970; 120:534-536.
Resnick PJ, Child murder by parents: A psychiatric review of filicide. Am J Psychiatry 1969; 126:325-334.
Abbott J, Johnson R, et al, JAMA, v.273, no.22, (June 14, 1995), p. 1763-1767, 1995.
Yellowlees P M, Kaushik A V, The Medical Journal of Australia, v.160, no.7, (April 4, 1994), p.408-411, 1994.
Mehta P. Dandrea L A, American Family Physician, v.37, no.1, (January 1988), p. 193-199, 1988.
Hillard P J A, Obstetrics & Gynecology, v.66, no.2, (August 1985), p. 185-190, 1985.
Kosky R. Silburn S, Zubrick SR. Are children and adolescents who have suicidal thoughts different from those who attempt suicide? J Nerv Ment Dis 1990; 178:38-43.
Van Praag HM, Plutchik R, Apter A. Violence and suicidality: Perspective in clinical and psychobiological research. New York: Brunner/Mazel 1990.
Selkin J. Rescue fantasies in homicide-suicide. Suicide Life-Threat Behav 1976; 6:79-85.
Berman A. Dyadic death: Murder-suicide. Suicide Life-Threat Behav 1979; 9:15-23
Shepherd M. Morbid jealousy: Some clinical and social aspects of a psychiatric syndrome. J Ment Sci 1961; 107:687-753.
Marzuk PM, Tardiff K, Hirsch CS. The epidemiology of murder-suicide. JAMA 1992b; 267:3179-3183.
Browne A. Assault and homicide in the home: When battered women kill. In MJ Saks, L. Saxe (eds), Advances in social psychology, vol. 3. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum 1987.
Wilbanks W. The female homicide offender in Dade County, Florida. Crim Justice Rev 1983;8:9.
Rosen BK. Suicide pacts: A review. Pschol Med 1981; 11:525-533.
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