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World Suicide Prevention Day: The Connection Between Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Homelessness, and Suicide

 On September 10, 2016 we observe World Suicide Prevention Day to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. If you are wondering what domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness have to do with suicide, the statistics below might surprise you.

Domestic Violence and Suicide

  • Domestic violence is a factor in up to one-quarter of female suicide attempts (1).
  • Fifty percent of survivors of intimate partner violence who attempt suicide undertake subsequent attempts (1).
  • Survivors are twice as likely to attempt suicide multiple times (2).
  • Survivors are 12 times more likely that the general population to die by suicide (3).
  • More survivors of domestic violence die by suicide than by their abuser (3).
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are two to five times more likely to engage in suicidal behaviors (3).

Sexual Violence and Suicide

  • The likelihood that a person suffers suicidal or depressive thoughts increases after sexual violence (5).
  • About thirty-three percent of rape survivors have suicidal thought (5).
  • About thirteen percent of rape survivors will attempt suicide (5).
  • Suicide attempts may occur years after the rape (5).

Homelessness and Suicide

In a study conducted to determine the prevalence of suicidality among the homeless:

  • Sixty-one percent of the study sample reported suicidal ideation (6).
  • Thirty-four percent had attempted suicide (6).
  • Fifty-six percent of the men reported prior suicidal ideation (6).
  • Seventy-eight percent of the women reported prior suicidal ideation (6).
  • Twenty-eight percent of the men had attempted suicide (6). 

worldsuicidepreventionday2013

Suicide Prevention

A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States (7).  Many of those individuals are affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness. While the statistics presented may surprise you, they are believed to be much higher than reported. Many of these figures may be greatly underreported, as many that share these difficult experiences do not ever disclose it to parties that collect data.

The stigma that surrounds domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness, and suicide prevents many from seeking or receiving the support they need. Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.  At Tri-Valley Haven we seek to support individuals affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness to empower them to improve their well-being and personal safety while breaking the cycle that contributes to suicidal thoughts. We also believe in aiding in the prevention of these experiences through education and advocacy. It is important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to address suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts trained crisis intervention counselors are available to receive crisis calls and give supportive counseling 24 hours a day, every day at the Alameda County 24-Hour Crisis Line 1-800-309-2131. Translation is available in more than 140 languages. Teletype (TDD) services for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals is also available. You do not have to be in Alameda County to use this crisis line. 

References

  1. Female Suicide and Domestic Violence – Criminal Justice – IresearchNet. (2015). Retrieved from http://criminal-justice.iresearchnet.com/crime/domestic-violence/female-suicide/
  1. Clay, R. A. (2014). Suicide and intimate partner violence. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/11/suicide-violence.aspx
  1. Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Chapman, D. P., Williamson, D. F., & Giles, W. H. (2001). Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Jama, 286(24), 3089-3096.
  1. (2016). Domestic Violence Survivors at Higher Risk for Suicide. Retrieved from https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/domestic-violence-survivors-at-higher-risk-for-suicide#.V9SPCJMrI1i
  1. Kilpatrick, D., Edumuds, C.,  Seymour, A. (1992) Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. Arlington, VA: National Victim Center and Medical University of South Carolina.
  1. Eynan, R., Langley, J., Tolomiczenko, G., Rhodes, A. E., Links, P., Wasylenki, D., & Goering, P. (2002). The association between homelessness and suicidal ideation and behaviors: Results of a cross‐sectional survey. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 32(4), 418-427.
  2. Suicide Statistics – Domestic Violence and Abuse Awareness project. (2012). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/dvaaproject/statistics/ss

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Adriana is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about upcoming events or services, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

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