Intimate partner violence associated with self-harm, suicidality in both men and women

Published in the lancet PsychiatryA new study is the first to show that intimate partner violence (IPV) is strongly associated with self-harm and suicidality in both men and women, and across all ages in England.

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

Led by the Violence and Society Center of City, University of London, in collaboration with the University of Manchester, University of Leicester, University College London and the University of Bristol, the study analyzed the results of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) conducted face-to-face with more than 7,000 adults, in 2014/5.

A nationally representative cross-section of households in England was interviewed, collecting information on gender, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and regional location.

The study participants were asked about experiences of physical violence and sexual, economic and emotional abuse by a current or former partner, and about suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm.

The survey found that 27 percent of women and 15 percent of men have experienced IPV at some point in their lives, confirming that women are much more likely than men to experience partner violence. People with experience with IPV were more likely to live in deprived neighborhoods and have also experienced many other setbacks in their lives. However, the associations between IPV and self-harm and suicidality remained strong even when adjusting for these other factors.

After adjusting for experience of other adversities, as well as demographic and socioeconomic factors, compared to those who had not, in the previous year, people who had experienced IPV at some point in their lives had:

  • more than twice the risk of self-harm without suicidal intent
  • almost twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts
  • and nearly three times the risk of a suicide attempt

If IPV had been experienced in the previous year, the risks were even greater.

Particularly increased rates of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts were found in those who had ever experienced sexual and emotional IPV, those who had ever experienced physical harm from IPV, and those who had experienced multiple forms of IPV, indicating that the more types of IPV a person has. exposed, the greater the risk of self-harm and suicidality.

There is a good chance that someone who reports to social services in suicidal need is a victim of intimate partner violence (IPV). Healthcare, social care and wellness professionals should ask people who have injured themselves or are at risk of suicide if they are experiencing IPV, and professionals should be prepared β€” and supported β€” to act accordingly.”

Sally McManus, Senior Lecturer in Health in the Violence and Society Center and School of Health Sciences, City, University of London and lead author of the study

dr. Estela Barbosa, Senior Research Fellow in the Violence and Society Centre, City, University of London and a co-author said:

β€œIntimate intimate partner violence is common in England, especially among women. The gender gap was widest for sexual IPV, which was about ten times more common in women than in men, and this type of IPV was associated with a particularly high risk of self-harm and suicidality.

dr. Duleeka Knipe, Population Health Sciences at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol and co-author said:

Violence reduction strategies should be part of suicide risk assessment and safety planning at the individual level, and they should be incorporated into national suicide prevention strategies. run self-harm and suicide.”


Reference magazine:

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

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