Domestic Abuse Suicides

We have been researching Domestic Abuse related suicides this month and I’ve found it the most difficult piece of work I’ve done in a long time. We have been applying the method we used to construct the Homicide Timeline to understand what happens in the weeks and months before a suicide. The work is not yet complete, but the early findings suggest there is a strong and predictable chronology in a domestic abuse related suicide. We have been privileged to speak with bereaved families and professionals working in this area, to dig really deeply into our cases and the events preceding a sudden death.This is a Home Office funded project and we will be publishing the results in due course. As part of this project we are also looking at so-called ‘honour based’ homicides and taking a deeper look at some of the stages identified in Intimate Partner Homicides.

Our Hidden Homicides project is also progressing and there are many cross-overs here with DA suicides. We feel the number of suspicious deaths where a third party or parties are involved exceeds the official numbers. There is an urgent need to reassess how we understand domestic abuse, and to stop considering it to be a ‘couples problem’ or ‘social work’. This is a criminal justice issue of some scale, and until professionals are supported with strong referral options, widespread training, and strong leadership, the issue will remain a crisis hiding in plain sight. It’s really time for Government, the Criminal Justice System and Community Safety Partnerships, to make sure they have the requisite knowledge to be involved in the wider ambition, to at the very least, reduce the number of deaths.

Suicide is a complex and misunderstood issue, and in the context of domestic abuse we can definitely do more to help people in crisis, and to understand the behaviours of their abusers. There are significant similarities with the Homicide Timeline and understanding coercive control will definitely do much to help us understand how lives are being lost.

For further information on our Homicide Timeline Online Training you can email Sue Haile at

or follow this link:

I have also written a book that takes you through the eight stages of the Homicide Timeline using case studies that illustrate how coercive control works from the perspective of offenders and victims. It can be purchased through any online book store including Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smith, as well as smaller independent book stores, and will be in stores when lockdown ends. There is an audible version, and a Kindle version.

Some reviews:

Blow assumptions about relationships out of the water…A game-changer. — Caitlin Moran ― Twitter

Shocking, frank, and very, very necessary. — Sam Baker

Powerful book offers a strategy for intervention that would save lives. ― The Independent

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