A coroner has urged the Home Secretary, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health to ensure a better understanding of the link between domestic abuse and suicide.
Jessie Laverack was a victim of domestic abuse who took her own life after failings by multiple agencies responsible for her care. The inquest into her death found, possibly for the first time in UK legal history, that underlying cause of Jessie’s mental illness was domestic abuse.
Speaking to Channel 4 news, Jessie’s mother said:
“Why does nobody link domestic abuse and suicide together? We have to start acknowledging how many figures, how many victims there are. We have to start collating figures, because if we don’t know, I think it’s going to be a national shock when people start realising how many women, or men, are taking their own lives as a result of domestic abuse.”
Also speaking on Channel 4 on Tuesday, Professor Jane Monckton-Smith said: “Two women a week are losing their lives to domestic abuse. If you include suicides, we’re probably talking about close to ten women a week.
“The abuse, the stalking and the control gets unmanageable, gets terrifying and the authorities are not managing to keep these perpetrators away. We need this to be taken seriously, and urgently.”
The coroner said that a lack of a coordinated approach to Jessie’s care by professionals, together with inadequate information sharing contributed to her decline.
Jessie Laverack was identified as being a high-risk domestic abuse case and was referred to a MARAC (a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference for high-risk victims of domestic abuse) in 2017 after fleeing her ex-partner.
The Rotherham MARAC heard evidence that she had been subjected to serious physical and sexual assaults. Miss Laverack had made a complaint to the police but withdrew it as she feared repercussions.
Despite being threatened again by her ex-partner in September 2017, Police subsequently downgraded her risk assessment. During the inquest, the officers who had attended said they had not received sufficient training in domestic abuse.
The decision to undertake an Article 2 inquest, where an individual has died whilst being in the custody of the state, was only taken after an almost five-year battle by Jessie’s mother, Phyllis Daly.
Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence, Jess Phillips, said: ‘It is absolute maddening, and not at all surprising that the outcome was what it was in this case.’
She also called for the government to better record and report on cases of sudden unexplained deaths, death by misadventure, and deaths caused by substance abuse where the deceased are victims of domestic violence.