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Community Conversation Breaks Silence Around Domestic Violence, Suicide

Speakers at a Monday forum hosted by the Farmington Area Suicide Prevention Task Force say the topics are related by shame and stigma.

Speakers at a Monday night community conversation at Farmington Hills city hall spent more than an hour talking about two things nobody really wants to talk about: abusive relationships and suicide. 

To get help with depression or suicidal thoughts, call Common Ground at 1-800-231-1127, Samaritan Counseling at 248-474-4701 or the National Suicide Prevention hot line at 1-800-231-TALK.

Cristy Cardinal, director of prevention education for HAVEN, which provides services to those experiencing domestic and sexual violence, said feelings of shame and self-blame are also common in both. 

"It's really important to think about how those feelings are shared feelings," she said. "Forty percent of survivors of domestic violence have attempted suicide."

Cardinal cited a study that showed dating violence is the "single greatest predictor of suicide ideation" for young girls, and the Centers for Disease Control includes it with heroin use and sexual assault as common among adolescents who think about suicide. 

A young woman who is sexually assaulted is also 400 times more likely to have an eating disorder, and dating violence increases risky behavior, drug abuse and other health risks, Cardinal said. 

Oakland Community College Womencenter director Arlene Frank said abuse can take many forms, from emotional and psychological domination to economic abuse. She cited the case of an OCC student who was unable to take a final exam after her husband broke her reading glasses, because he didn't want her going to college. 

She said there is no typical victim, and while women are more likely to be victims, they can also be abusers. 

"The reality is, it's an equal opportunity crime," she said. 

Frank and Cardinal also pointed out the importance of talking with young people, and even children, about healthy and supportive relationships.

"It's particularly important to talk to teens," Frank said. "They really need to know about domestic abuse and dating violence. In your first relationship, you don't know what to expect." 

Frank cited a number of on-line resources, including the Teen Yellow Pages, Break the Cycle, Love is Respect and HAVEN's website

The next Community Conversation, held in September, will address the topic of surviving a suicide attempt. These events are funded by the Graham E. Smith Memorial Foundation, founded by Farmington Hills city council member Ken Massey and his wife, Katherine, in memory of their son, who committed suicide two years ago.

Grand Tavern restaurant in Farmington Hills will host a fundraiser on June 19, with proceeds from sales between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. going to support the Farmington Area Suicide Prevention Task Force. Learn more by following the Farmington Suicide Awareness Group on Facebook.

{{{ ahem }}}... and speaking of "breaking the silence", I would challenge the task force to address the emerging stupidity of young females feeling free to TAUNT YOUNG MEN WITH THE EXPRESS PURPOSE TO LEAD THEM TO VIOLENCE. Look. Bring on the hate mail. I don't care. I have seen this coming for years. I have seen what my daughters have done to their boyfriends, I have seen them taunt these young men and then crawl up in their faces and literally DARE the boys/men to strike them - all followed up by the threat of dialing 911 and taking great joy in possibly destroying that young man's future with what amounts to a phony charge of DV. My god. I never thought that being a cranky old man would have such a wonderful side benefit of NEVER - EVER having to deal with an insane female for the rest of eternity. Thank you. My rant is over. Oh and as for the task group??? In the year 2013... with facebook... zanax... and all the other RX drugs that these vermin pass around like candy?? I sincerely wish you all the best of luck. Now then. Back to my Gilligan's Island reruns...
Mara Topper April 25, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Great article! Thank you so much to Christy Cardinal and HAVEN for the incredible work they do in Oakland County to prevent and address the issues of domestic and sexual violence. And truly heartfelt appreciation to Ken and Katherine Massey for their courage and generosity. I have no doubt how much your efforts are positively impacting our community. Thank you for illuminating such an important subject as suicide and its prevention.
Kelly Goldberg April 25, 2013 at 03:49 PM
An important beginning! Our zip code does not grant immunity to human suffering, nor do advanced degrees, status or high income. Abuse, coercion, denigration and humiliation occur in " the best" of families behind closed doors. Cries for help are ignored all too often because the victim is marginalized and blamed for not being a supportive spouse. Some of our most charming, successful and personable students and spouses are the bullies destroying lives around them. But the social cost of fronting them out perpetuates and prolongs the suffering of their victims.
Dane Gussin April 27, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Every now and again you've got to remind yourself that it's difficult if not impossible to argue with stupidity.

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