New Zealand women who have experienced violent relationships are more likely to contemplate suicide, according to new research which says better integration is needed between health and social services.
The research from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse and the University of Auckland was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health in October. It was sparked by New Zealand's high rate of maternal mortality, of which the leading cause is suicide. In 2010, there were 142 female suicide deaths here.
Dr Pauline Gulliver from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse and Janet Fanslow from the university's School of Population Health investigated factors associated with suicidal thoughts and intimate partner violence in 2855 New Zealand women aged between 18-64.
Of those women, 33.5 per cent reported domestic violence and 36.5 per cent reported that they had thought about ending their lives.
Dr Gulliver told the Herald the data showed several factors increased the likelihood of women with domestic violence experience to have suicidal thoughts: If she felt that her partner's behaviour affected her mental health, if she had experienced stillbirth, abortion or miscarriage or if she used recreational drugs.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said the study's recommendations will be considered, but a number of programmes already ran to address the issue.
Each District Health Board has a family violence co-ordinator and ran the Violence Intervention Programme. The programme trained health professionals in early identification and response to family violence, and promoted a multi-agency approach, he said.