1. Rosenberg, Karen


According to this study:


* Intimate partner violence is more prevalent than previously believed and is strongly associated with suicidality and self-harm.


* Interventions to reduce intimate partner violence could also reduce suicide.



Article Content

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a known risk factor for psychiatric disorders, but there is little evidence that considers the relationship between specific types of IPV and suicidality or self-harm. Researchers used data from a cross-sectional probability sample survey of the household population of England ages 16 and older to determine the associations between lifetime and past-year exposure to IPV and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt, and self-harm.


Participants were asked about their experience of physical violence and sexual, economic, and emotional abuse from a current or former partner. They were also asked about adversities they had experienced, such as serious illness or injury.


Approximately one-fifth (21.4%) of 7,058 respondents reported ever experiencing violence or abuse from an intimate partner. Lifetime experience of IPV was more common in women than in men (27.2% versus 15.3%). People who had a lifetime history of IPV were three times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year compared with those who hadn't experienced IPV. They were also approximately three times more likely in the past year to have self-harmed without suicidal intent and twice as likely to have had suicidal thoughts.


Among people who had attempted suicide in the past year, 58.4% of women and 39.6% of men had ever experienced IPV, and 34.8% of women and 9.4% of men had experienced IPV in the past year. After adjusting for other variables, the odds ratios associated with lifetime experience of IPV were 2.82 for a suicide attempt, 1.85 for suicidal thoughts, and 2.20 for self-harm. For those who had experienced IPV in the past year, the adjusted odds ratios were 3.79, 3.05, and 3.04, respectively. The strongest predictors of suicidality and self-harm were experience at any time with sexual and emotional IPV.


Among the limitations of the study was that causality couldn't be established. The authors also note that this was a household sample whose scope didn't include people living in other settings (such as institutional settings or those experiencing homelessness), who are likely to be at higher risk for IPV and self-harm and suicidality. In addition, they say some underreporting of stigmatized experiences was possible.


Health care providers should routinely inquire about IPV when a person has self-harmed or is in suicidal distress, the authors advise.


McManus S, et al Lancet Psychiatry 2022;9(7):574-83.