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Domestic abuse and suicide


If you need further support, please contact the SPOC on 01384 455 411

We ask that you bear in mind your own wellbeing

Please be aware that this briefing will cover the topics of trauma and domestic abuse

Trigger warning

A recording of the briefing will be available after the session has ended

The session will run for 50 minutes with 10 minutes for questions - you will be able to contribute questions through the Q&A function

What can you expect?

Risk of attempting suicide
Risk of having suicidal thoughts

McManus, S, et al. (2022) Intimate partner violence, suicidality, and self-harm: a probability sample survey of the general population in England.



Professor Sally McManus, University of London

“There is a high likelihood that someone presenting to services in suicidal distress is a victim of IPV. Health, social care and welfare professionals need to ask people who have self-harmed or are at risk of suicide if they are experiencing IPV, and professionals should be prepared and supported to act accordingly."

Why do we need to know about domestic abuse and suicide?

DA services

mental health services



GP/health services

children's social care

Percentage of victims and perpetrators in suspected victim suicides known to services:

Bates, et al. (2022) Domestic Homicides and Suspected Victim Suicides 2021-2022.



Missed opportunities

Other multiple disadvantages

Breaching of orders

Perpetrator suicidality

Health issues


Type of abuse

Ongoing trauma

Bates, et al. (2022) Domestic Homicides and Suspected Victim Suicides 2021-2022.

Indicators of risk

By prof. jane monckton smith



intimate partner violence

Suicide Timeline

Suicidal ideation


early relationship

Help seeking


Pre-relationship (history)

Sasha is 21 years old and has a 2 year old son, Jake, with her ex-partner, Lee.Sasha was with Lee for 3 years but they are now separated after Sasha found out that Lee had been seeing someone else. Lee still has regular contact with Jake and visits Sasha's home. Sasha has a social worker because she was a looked after child.


cultural consideration

The perpetrator has a history of abusive behaviour.The victim may have been in previous abusive relationships and/or has vulnerabilities.

Continue to stage 2

Lee has been jealous and controlling in previous relationships. His last girlfriend, Annie, took out a non-molestation order but he ignored it. She had to move area. Sasha only recently got back in touch with her mum after being in care from the age of 5. Sasha has memories of her dad shouting at her mum and smashing up the house. It has affected her own relationships.


  • Romantic actions speed up
  • Early cohabitation
  • Declarations of love
  • Pregnancy
  • Marriage
  • Resists attempts to slow down the relationship
  • Jealous and possessive

Continue to stage 3

Sasha and Lee met through a mutual friend and hit it off straight away. They spent all their time together. Within the first few weeks of the relationship, Lee told Sasha that he loved her. He was always interested in what she said and did, he even stopped at her work occasionally to see how she was.

early relationship

Sasha fell pregnant and Lee started to become more possessive. He said that he would die if anything happened to her or the baby. Lee would not let her do anything or see anyone in case something happened. He would check her phone to monitor who she was talking to and she lost contact with friends. If Sasha tried to separate from Lee, he would threaten suicide.

The relationship is dominated by patterns of abusive behaviour, e.g. coercive control, violence, threats.

Continue to stage 4


  • The victim starts to disclose the abuse as they become more distressed.
  • Disclosure may come before help seeking as a coping strategy in itself.
  • Disclosure represents a potential escalation in risk.

Continue to stage 5

Sasha ends her relationship with Lee because he has been seeing another woman. Lee angrily bombards her with calls, makes threats and follows her when she leaves the house. Sasha confides in her mum that she feels trapped because she can’t stop Lee from seeing Jake. She tells her about Lee’s threats and that she is struggling to cope. Sasha’s mum suggests that she calls the police to report Lee, but Sasha is too afraid.


Lee’s behaviour becomes more hostile. He bangs and kicks on her door and then grabs her by the throat. Sasha feels so helpless that she decides to tell her social worker that she is feeling depressed and worn out because of Lee’s constant contact. The social worker is concerned for Sasha’s wellbeing. She suggests that she visits a GP and talks to a domestic abuse advocate.

The victim may actively start to seek help from agencies.

Continue to stage 6

help seeking

Although Sasha is prescribed some medication, she still feels very low and Lee’s abusive behaviour persists. He often drives by her house or looks in her window and she feels trapped in the house. Sasha does not want to get out of bed in the morning and has lost interest in her hobbies. She starts to think that her son would be better off without her.

The victim starts talking about ending their life as the abusive behaviour is persistent and intense.

Continue to stage 7

suicidal ideation

Sasha feels trapped. She tells the IDVA in her first appointment that she can’t go on the way things are but does not see how they could ever get better. She believes that if Lee does not kill her, his persistent behaviour will push her to end her own life.

The victim feels completely trapped by the perpetrator and believes that they will never be free.

Continue to stage 8


There is a suicide.The suicide does not have to take place during the relationship.

Thankfully Sasha is taken seriously and gets the right support from professionals before reaching this stage.


Sasha feels that Jake would be better off without her. Lee has told her that she is a bad mother and she believes him.

NSPCC (2015) Learning from case reviews briefing: parents with a mental health problem.

Monckton Smith, et al. (2022) report on intimate partner homicide and suicide.

We can't assume that a victim will not act on suicidal thoughts because they have children. We must explore the context of the situation, complete a thorough risk assessment and manage risk appropriately.

Are children protective factors?

If a perpetrator threatens suicide, we should be alert to the heightened risk of homicide to others.

Perpetrator links to suicidality

"Have you had thoughts about harming others?"

Home Office Review of 124 DHRs:

  • 10% perpetrators took their own lives after murdering a partner/family member.
  • 21% perpetrators known to have suicidal thoughts.

Cheng and Jaffe (2021) Examining Depression Among Perpetrators of IPH

Perpetrators with depression more likely to commit homicide and then take their own life (homicide-suicide), than perpetrators who do not have depression (Cheng and Jaffe, 2021).

Home Office (2021) Key findings from analysis of domestic homicide reviews

"I can't live without you."

"If I can't have you, no one can."

Perpetrator links to suicidality

Share relevant information

Be mindful of the language that you use

Take a holisitic approach

Take disclosures seriously

Break the stigma

How can you help?

All referrals, including self-referrals can be made via: Telephone: 01384 455 411 (24 hours) Text/Whatsapp: 07384 466 181 (9am-9pm weekdays) Webchat (see our website for details)

How to contact Dudley Single Point of Contact (SPOC)


Scan the QR code to access:

  • Specialist domestic abuse e-learning courses for Dudley professionals, including a course on DA and suicide
  • Domestic abuse resource and education packs
  • Our live online briefing catalogue

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