June: Intimate Partner Violence | News and Features

A new study is the first to show that intimate partner violence (IPV) is strongly associated with self-harm and suicide in both men and women, and at all ages in England.

While IPV is a recognized risk factor for psychiatric disorders, there was previously little evidence on IPV, self-harm and suicidality.

Conducted by the Violence and Society Center at City, University of London, in collaboration with the universities of Bristol, Manchester, Leicester and University College London, the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatrywas an analysis of results from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) conducted face-to-face with over 7,000 adults, in 2014/5.

A nationally representative sample of households in England was interviewed, collecting information on gender, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity and regional location.

Study participants were asked about experiences of physical abuse and sexual, economic, and emotional abuse from a current or former partner, as well as suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and self-harm.

The study found that 27% of women and 15% of men had experienced spousal violence at some point in their lives, confirming that women are much more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence. from a partner. People who experienced domestic violence were more likely to live in more deprived neighborhoods and also to have experienced many other adversities in their lives. However, the associations between spousal violence and self-harm and suicidality remained strong even when these other factors were adjusted for.

After adjusting for experience of other adversities, as well as demographic and socioeconomic factors, people who have ever experienced IPV in their lifetime, compared with those who have not, had during the previous year:

  • more than twice the risk of self-harm without suicidal intent
  • almost twice the risk of having suicidal thoughts
  • and nearly three times the risk of attempted suicide

If IPV had been experienced within the previous year, the risks were even higher.

Particularly high rates of self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts have been found among people who have ever been subjected to sexual and emotional abuse, those who have ever suffered physical injury from intimate partner violence and those who have experienced multiple forms of intimate partner violence, indicating that the more a person is exposed to many types of intimate partner violence, the higher the risk of self-harm and suicide.

Sally McManus, Senior Lecturer in Health at the Center for Violence and Society and School of Health Sciences, City, University of London and first author of the study, said: “There is a high likelihood that a person presenting to services in suicidal distress is a victim of domestic violence (IPV) Health, social care and social care professionals should ask people who have harmed themselves or are at risk of suicide they are victims of IPV, and professionals need to be prepared – and supported – to act accordingly.”

Dr Duleeka Knipe from Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences and co-author, added: “Strategies to reduce violence should be part of suicide risk assessment and safety planning at the individual level. , and they should be included in national suicide prevention strategies. Interventions designed to reduce the prevalence and duration of IPV could protect and improve the lives of those at risk of self-harm and suicide.”

Dr Estela Barbosa, senior researcher at the Center for Violence and Society, City, University of London and co-author, said: “Domestic violence is common in England, particularly among women. The gap between gender was most important for sexual IPV, which was about ten times more common in women than in men, and this type of intimate partner violence was associated with particularly high risks of self-harm and suicide.”


“Intimate partner violence, suicidality and self-harm: a probability sample survey of the general population in England” by Sally McManus, Sylvia Walby, Estela Capelas Barbosa, Louis Appleby, Traolach Brugha, Paul E Bebbington, Elizabeth A Cook, Duleeka Knipe in The Lancet Psychiatry [open access]

More information

The research was supported by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (Violence, Health and Society; MR-VO49879/1), which is funded by the British Heart Foundation, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Natural Environment Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), The Health Foundation , and Welcome.

The views expressed in the research article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK Prevention Research Partnership or any other funder.

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