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."
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.