Facts about Suicide Loss:
Multiple studies have found that domestic violence survivors have higher-than-average rates of suicidal thoughts, with as many as 23 percent of survivors having attempted suicide compared to 3 percent among populations with no prior domestic violence exposure.
It’s not just physical violence that’s linked with an increase in suicide. Verbal and emotional abuse are also connected with higher risk, as well as the duration, frequency and severity of abuse, and the presence of other factors such as PTSD, childhood trauma, depression and substance use.
While domestic violence increases the risk of suicide, survivors may face other factors that further increase their risk: being female, low socioeconomic status, lack of education, unemployment, increasing age, being married and not working outside of the home.
Are You at Risk?
According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, these signs may be red flags that can indicate someone is at high risk of attempting suicide:
1. Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
2. Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
4. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
5. Talking about being a burden to others
6. Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs
7. Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
8. Sleeping too little or too much
9. Withdrawing or isolating themselves
10. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
11. Displaying extreme mood swings
If these feelings or actions are new or increasing, or if they are related to a painful event, loss, or change, suicide risk is even higher. LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D., a Florida-based psychologist and licensed clinical social worker with expertise in both domestic violence and suicide, recommends turning to a suicide hotline rather than a domestic violence hotline. “The immediacy stemming from the suicidal thoughts requires people specifically trained in suicide intervention,” she says. Seek help as soon as possible by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with someone who can help. For support from a trained crisis counselor via text, text “GO” to 741-741.
This information can be found at the Domestic Shelter Website
South Dakota has a statewide Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-430-7233. This line is answered by the Helpline Center and can be accessed by those in domestic violence situations, friends or concerned loved ones. The Domestic Violence Hotline for South Dakota is answered 24/7 and provides crisis intervention, support, and referrals to local crisis shelters in the state.
In a study published in Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 41(4):372-383, Cavanaugh, Messing, Del-Colle, O’Sullivan & Campbell, (2011) reported that women who had been victimized by intimate partner violence and who had a chronic illness or disability had 2.4 times the risk of threatening or attempting suicide than women who had been victimized but did not have a chronic illness or disability. Additionally, women who had been victims of intimate partner violence and whose partners had threatened or attempted suicide were at greater risk of suicide than women victims whose partners had never threatened or attempted suicide. Younger victims of intimate partner violence were more at risk for suicidality than older victims. Of the women who had experienced intimate partner violence, 23% had threatened or attempted suicide.
The American Association of Suicidology has a fact sheet on suicide and sexual assault/interpersonal violence.
Another fact sheet can be found on the Suicide Prevention Website.
Information on the statistics for the state of South Dakota can be found on the South Dakota Suicide Prevention Website.
Resources for Dealing with Loss:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Resource and Healing Guide is designed to help survivors navigate the experience of losing a loved one to suicide. It includes practical information about coping with suicide loss, personal survivor stories, articles on bereavement, resource listings and an extensive bibliography.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) has a guide titled “Suicide: Coping with the Loss of a Friend or Loved One” available to order that contains resources to help survivors begin the process of grieving, coping and living again. There is also information on talking with children following a suicide attempt in the family.
The Dougy Center is a national resource that focuses specifically on assisting grieving children and their families.
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) maintains an online library that includes a section titled “Survivor Resources” that contains a comprehensive list of survivor support materials, resources on coping with grief, books and additional resources including a recommended resources and resources for parents, guardians, and families.
National Resource List:
The Shiva Foundation … Honors loss in the cycle of life
Lighting the candle of hope
Helping children cope with loss.
The number one source for concerned parents.
Survivors of Violent Loss Program 10 week group sessions for all family members
Survivors of Suicide Loss Support for survivors, family members, and friends Counseling & group support
Domestic Violence safety Brochure from the American Bar Association Resources and Support for survivors of trauma