Background: Suicide consistently ranks in the top ten causes of death nationally. The purpose of this study was to develop a novel coding scheme to determine what percentage of suicide cases from 2005-2015 in Kentucky involved violence when intimate partner problems were identified. Currently, researchers using the national dataset, containing these data, only have the option to identify intimate partner problems unless each case is reviewed individually.
Methods: Data from the Kentucky Violent Death Reporting System from 2005-2015 were used to create a subset of cases where intimate partner problems were identified and qualitative and quantitative analysis of the death scene investigation incident narratives was conducted to identify cases where intimate partner violence also contributed to the suicide.
Results: Intimate partner problems were identified in 1,327 (26%) of all suicide cases where circumstances were known and intimate partner violence in 575 (43%) cases identified as having intimate partner problems. There was an argument or fight in 30% of cases where intimate partner problems were identified and most were immediately followed by the suicide.
Conclusions: We did find supporting evidence of our hypothesis that there is a great deal of underlying and outright violence in intimate relationships, which is exacerbating the risk of suicide. This detailed coding schema guided abstractors to better identify intimate partner violence in suicides, which could be easily replicated.