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A link has been established between domestic abuse and suicide, with new research revealing that women who experience abuse from a partner are three times more likely to have attempted suicide in the last 12 months than those who haven’t experienced abuse.

Carried out by Agenda Alliance, the study also revealed that women in poverty are particularly at risk, with 47 per cent who are either unemployed or unable to work because of disability or sickness experiencing domestic abuse from a partner.

These findings have led to renewed calls for healthcare professionals, as well as those in the justice, education and welfare sectors, to undergo better training in order to deepen their understanding of these issues and deliver improved responses to at-risk women.

It was also found that sexual abuse increases the risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, with women ten times more likely than men to experience partner-enacted sexual abuse.

Agenda Alliance is now calling for a statutory duty for professionals in public services to routinely ask whether people are safe, as well as driving improvements to women’s opportunities to leave abusers, such as by separating household universal credit payments by default.

Jess Southgate, deputy CEO, commented on the findings, saying: “It is shameful that the clear link between domestic abuse and suicidal feelings amongst women has not previously been recognised as the public health crisis that it is. 

“We at Agenda Alliance know that the most marginalised women are often those most at risk. Yet time and again their needs and experiences are overlooked. In the ongoing cost-of-living crisis it is essential that women are not left trapped in abusive situations. 

“All public service professionals must be trained to ask if women are safe, and to support them to get the help they need.”

While there is no reliable prevalence dataset relating to domestic abuse, according to the Crime Survey of England and Wales for the year ending March 2020, it was estimated that 1.6 million women aged between 16 and 74 experienced domestic abuse over the course of the 12 months.


Are you interested in bereavement research? Get in touch with Suicide Bereavement UK to find out more.