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Utah Health Department report indicates domestic violence claimed 65 lives in 2005

For Utahns residing at locations throughout the state, 2005 represented a deadly year for incidents involving domestic violence.

According to a report compiled by the Utah Department of Health, 21 men and women died at the hands of intimate partners, friends or family members.

In addition, 44 men and women committed suicide in the wake of a domestic violence incident.

"In 2005, the Utah Department of Health began looking at domestic violence cases in a different light," explained Teresa Brechlin, intentional injury prevention program coordinator for the UDOH.

"We began collecting data under the new national violent death reporting system and uncovered this epidemic of DV-related suicide," continued the state health department's violence and injury prevention program coordinator.

A suicide is considered domestic violence related if one of the circumstances surrounding the death involved violence or the threat of violence between intimate partners, family members or roommates, according to the state health agency.

Of the 44 Utahns who reportedly committed suicide in connection with alleged domestic violence incidents, 42 or 95 percent of the subjects were males and two were females.

In addition, 41 percent of the suicide victims were known substance abusers, 29 percent had a recent criminal legal problem and 24 percent had mental health problems.

Sixty-four percent of suicides were committed by firearms, 29 percent involved hangings and 7 percent were poisonings.

Of the 21 domestic violence homicide victims, 10 were male and 11 were female.

Homicide rates were highest among the 18 to 34 age group. The homicide rates were also significantly higher among Utahns of Hispanic/Latino descent for the domestic violence victims and suspected perpetrators.

All of the domestic violence homicide suspects were male and more than one-half or 52 percent of the alleged perpetrators used a firearm in the killings.

Twenty percent of the domestic violence homicide suspects used a sharp object, 12 percent used personal weapons like hands or fists and 8 percent used a blunt object.

In three of the domestic violence homicide incidents, multiple weapons were used by the suspects.

Regarding the relationship of the suspect to the victim, many Utahns continue to believe domestic violence always involves intimate partners, pointed out the state health department's violence and injury prevention program coordinator.

But in 2005, only 42 percent of domestic violence homicide suspects were intimately involved with the victims, indicated the statewide report issued by the health department.

Another 33 percent of the homicide suspects were other family members and 25 percent were acquaintances of the victims like friends or roommates.

The circumstances surrounding the domestic violence homicide occurrences were varied, continued the state health department's violence and injury prevention program coordinator..

The circumstances included lovers' triangles, arguments over money or property, mercy killing and mental illness.

In some instances, the victims of domestic violence homicides were purportedly killed while trying to intervene on behalf of another person.

"The report shows us that domestic violence is far-reaching and affects more Utahns than the public realizes," said Brechlin. "All those who die in domestic violence incidents, whether by their own hand or someone else, leave behind family and friends who have to cope with the devastation," she added.

The full domestic violence homicide and suicide report is available online to Carbon County residents with Internet access.

The report may be viewed at

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