In December 2022, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News reported on a recent study by the Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing that revealed an “alarming link between family violence and suicide” in Western Australia. The research was conducted by Ombudsman Chris Field and showed more than half of all West Australian women and children who died by suicide in 2017 were known to the state government as victims of domestic violence. Just a few months later in February 2023, the Guardian published an article by Sally McManus, a health expert at City University of London, that concluded women who suffer domestic abuse are three times as likely to attempt suicide.
The Australian study found that, in 2017, a total of 410 people died by suicide, and 124 of those were women and children. About 60 percent of those individuals were recorded as victims of domestic violence. The Ombudsman agreed these “figures were likely an under-representation” because, in the last five years, there has been a significant increase in the number of domestic violence reports. For instance, in 2022 West Australian Police responded to an average of one family violence incident every twelve minutes. Similarly, the UK study discovered more than a quarter of women respondents were estimated to suffer from intimate partner violence (IPV) during their lifetime. McManus additionally observed that women in the UK who are living in poverty, unemployed, or unable to work due to sickness or disability, are more likely to suffer from IPV. The results of this data sought opportunities for improvement in both the Australian and UK government.
Recommendations moving forward include training police to improve ways of identifying people most in need of protection and also reaching out to National Health Services for therapeutic treatment. Specifically, the Australian government has built a few refuges where women and children can stay in a safe environment and recover from their traumatic abusive experiences. In addition to housing, many other changes have been added to the Australian government, including extra funding for domestic abuse victims, a review of police protocols, funding to train first responders in spotting signs of domestic abuse, and funding therapeutic services to help young people affected by domestic violence.
In recent decades, corporate media has covered domestic abuse in family and partner relationships. Studies linking the positive correlation between domestic abuse and suicide rates have been observed in other countries around the world; however, there has been no corporate news coverage of equivalent studies concerning the rates of suicide and domestic abuse in the United States.
Denis Campbell, “Women Who Suffer Domestic Abuse Three Times as Likely to Attempt Suicide,” The Guardian, February 22, 2023.
Keane Bourke, “Alarm Bells Ring after ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Domestic Violence and Suicide Link Revealed,” ABC News, December 3, 2022.
Student Researcher: Olivia Oberlin (Drew University)
Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Lynch (Drew University)