Utah domestic violence deaths increased in 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new report shows there were 27 domestic violence-related deaths in Utah during 2009 – an increase from the 22 deaths recorded the previous year.Utah Domestic Violence Council Executive Director Judy Kasten Bell says there is no way to pinpoint an exact reason for the increase, adding that many of those killed were young, including a 17-year-old boy who shot himself after allegedly holding his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend at gunpoint.The study says six of those killed in 2009 were in dating relationships and 21 of the 27 deaths involved the use of a firearm.”That has us very concerned,” Kasten Bell said. “It would be interesting to take a better look at. Are weapons of use more easily available and that’s why a death is taking place instead of injuries, which are also terrible?”The report data was gathered from public sources, including news reports.Despite the increase year-to-year increase, the number of deaths in 2009 is lower than in some previous years. In 2005, there were 33 deaths, for example, and in 2006 there were 29.A slumping economy could be an underlying factor in the 2009 increase, because trying times can exacerbate already-unhealthy relationships.The council is working to combat domestic violence by encouraging conversation about the characteristics of healthy relationships. Showing interest about a relationship by asking if a person feels happy and safe can make a victim feel more comfortable to speak up and seek help in abusive situations, Kasten Bell said.”If we don’t talk about it and shut our eyes to the fact that very unhealthy relationships are in our community, we’re going to see this continue,” she said.

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