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Exploring the relationship between domestic violence perpetration and suicide risk in male prisoners

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posted on 2022-10-13, 13:23 authored by Claire Dewar

 Suicide  in  prisons  remains  a  critical  issue  for  frontline  staff  and  policy  makers,  however there  are  gaps  in understanding  who,  of  an  already  vulnerable  population,  is  at  increased risk   and   why.      This   thesis   explores   the relationship   between   domestic   violence perpetration and suicide risk in prisoners, as although such a link has been suggested it has not  been  investigated  in  custodial  populations.    The  first  study  uses  template  analysis  to identify what is known and gaps in knowledge about domestically violent men who died by suicide  in  prison  by  analysing  Prison  and  Probation  Ombudsman  Fatal  Incident  Reports (FIRs).    Drawing  from  qualitative  interviews,  the  second  study  uses  thematic  analysis  to explore  the  experiences  ofdomestically  violent  prisoners  who  have  attempted  suicide  in prison.Overall  the  two  studies  demonstrate  that  a  relationship  between  domestic  violence perpetration  and  suicide  risk  exists  in  a  prison  population.  The  first  study  identified  two overarching aspects  to  FIRs;  individual factors  and  situational  and  management  factors.  A key finding was the limited knowledge and understanding of the histories and backgrounds of the men studied within FIRs.  However, the study identified potentially important areas of  further  exploration  including  how  the  men  experienced  relationships,  coping  skills  and their emotional experience. The second study identified five key themes that illustrate the experiences of domestically violent men who have attempted suicide in custody through a sequence or pathway of experiences; Trauma, victimisation and life struggles, Relationship ideals  versus  relationship  reality,  Explaining  domestic  violence,  The  impact  of  prison  and Suicide as a coping strategy. This  thesis  concludes  that the  relationship  between  domestic  violence  and  suicide  risk  in prisoners  may  be  better  understood  by  consideration  of  underlying  features  of  domestic violence  perpetrators,  such  as  experiences  of  trauma,  personality  psychopathology  and attachment.    Further exploring  pathways  to  suicide  in  this  population  may  provide  useful insight in the future. 



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD

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