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Drive Partnership announces the publication of a new research paper on suicide rates in high-risk, high-harm perpetrators of domestic abuse

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To mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 (Sunday 10th September), The Drive Partnership is pleased to share a newly published research paper: Suicide rates in high-risk, high-harm perpetrators of domestic abuse in England and Wales: a cohort study to be published in Crisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. This paper will also be presented at the European Conference on Domestic Abuse in Iceland this week. 

This research, undertaken as a collaboration between the Drive Partnership, Dr Duleeka Knipe and her team from the University of Bristol, suggests that the suicide rate in the cohort of high-risk, high-harm domestic abuse perpetrators is significantly higher than many other high-risk groups. Improving mental health and outcomes is imperative to reduce the suicide deaths in this group and, therefore reduce the impact such deaths can have on the adult and child victims of abuse.  

The paper highlights that perpetrators of domestic can use threats of suicide as a form of coercive control, which can result in a reluctance to support this group with suicidality. However, the death of a perpetrator is not only a tragic loss of life but can have lasting impacts on both the adult victim(s) of the abuse and the perpetrator’s children, and losing family members dying by suicide is a significant risk factor for future suicidal behaviour.   

Previous research has established that the prevalence of mental illness is high amongst domestic abuse perpetrators and that these individuals are significantly more likely to have been exposed to childhood trauma than the general population. Both of these factors are significant risk factors for suicide and suicidal thoughts, but the rate of suicide in UK domestic abuse perpetrator populations is currently unknown.  

The Drive Partnership has been working across research, practice and policy work to advocate for further research into the risk of suicide and suicidal ideation in all domestic abuse perpetrators, as well as more effective personalised safety planning as a key protective factor. This has included the work on this new research paper, developing practice guidance for frontline practitioners delivering the Drive Project and sharing evidence to inform the development of the Government’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy.  

This forms a part of our National Systems Change work through which we identify systemic gaps and bring together the insights of survivors, service users, practitioners, specialist organisations, researchers and policymakers to build solutions. As part of a new grant awarded by The National Lottery Community Fund, we will be undertaking further work over the next three years to develop and deliver improved practice in response to unmet needs around the intersection of domestic abuse perpetration and disability, including mental health. 

Both suicide and domestic abuse remain taboo subjects across society – to both tackle this and ensure the next generation is equipped with the skills to identify and respond to domestic abuse and suicidality, there must be an increased focus on education in relation to domestic abuse, mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

Access the paper here 

Learn more about the Drive Partnership’s National Systems Change work here