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Suicide and Domestic Violence

Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States and the third leading cause of death for the young. Homicide is not far behind. On average, one person every eighteen minutes kills himself or herself. White males are more likely to kill themselves than any other group, and there are over four male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide, even though there are reportedly three female attempts for each male attempt. Five million living Americans are estimated to have attempted suicide, and divorce is the leading factor linked with suicide rates above all other physical, financial and psychological factors.

According to several sources, a person may be suicidal if he or she:

  • Talks about ending his/her life
  • Has problems eating, sleeping or completing everyday tasks
  • Has severe changes in conduct
  • Distances oneself from loved ones and/or social activities
  • Loses interest in life
  • Legally prepares for death with a will or other final arrangements
  • Gives prized possessions to others
  • Has attempted suicide
  • Unnecessarily puts oneself in dangerous situations
  • Has suffered recent losses
  • Is preoccupied with death and dying
  • Loses interest in his/her personal appearance
  • Increases drug or alcohol consumption

According to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, each year one million women suffer nonfatal violence by a person with whom they are intimate. By other estimates, four million women in the U.S. experience a serious assault by a lover during an average year, and almost one-third of adult women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood. Intimates perpetrate over one quarter of all annual violence against women with only five percent of all annual violence against men being perpetrated by intimates.

The most dangerous time for a divorcing woman is in the few weeks prior to or a few weeks after the divorce. Statistically, women are usually the victims. Little is known about women who kill their husbands because it happens less frequently. When this does occur, however, there is almost always a history of violence in the relationship.

Domestic violence certainly has lasting effects upon the family unit. Each year family members expose an estimated three million children to violence, and fathers who batter mothers are two times more likely to seek sole physical custody of their children than are non-violent fathers. Domestic homicide is often the culmination of an escalating history of abuse, be it verbal or physical, and eighty-eight percent of domestic violence fatalities had a documented history of physical abuse. Forty-four percent of victims of domestic homicides had prior threats by the killer to kill the victim or themselves, and thirty percent had prior police calls to the residence.

If there has been any violence in your family, we need to discuss it before anything is filed. We will want to determine whether a restraining order is needed and the best way to get it. Some spouses will simply stay away if such an order has been issued, and even if your spouse will not obey the order, it will help the police deal with your spouse if the need arises.

If there are allegations about your committing domestic abuse toward your spouse or children, tell me about it so that I can be prepared to handle the situation. I do not like being surprised in court and it will make us both look ridiculous if you keep important information away from me. There is a good chance that your spouse will make a spectacle out of these allegations. If you are innocent, we need to sort out our proof to defend you. Often there is an explanation about why things happened, such as your spouse was attacking you and you shielded yourself. If you committed abuse you will need to get counseling and stop the abuse or you will find yourself in jail and I will not be representing you for very long.

Child abuse is sick. False allegations of child abuse are just as sick. Both do damage that can continue through a family for generation upon generation. Just because you are getting a divorce does not automatically mean that your spouse will mistreat your children. Keep in mind that you brought the child into this world with your spouse and your children need you both to develop into a healthy adult.

Abuse is often questionable. In some cases one person's abuse is another person's discipline. Some experts, such as a psychologist, can be helpful. Some can make the problem worse. If the police are called, be calm. Even if you called the police they may arrest you if you do not act rationally in their presence. Being aggressive with the police obviously increases the likelihood you will be arrested.

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