Murder and Pregnancy

The number one and two cause of death during pregnancy are murder and suicide, in that order. None of the other major causes of death come close. For the medical causes, advances in prenatal medicine and an increase of those cared for by a doctor during pregnancy have really dropped the numbers. Not so with murder and suicide.

In the cases involving murder, most of it domestic violence related. Those murdered may be killed by a current partner or a previous one. In most cases, it wasn’t the first time violence had been used.

Most researches believe that there is a low risk of suicide during pregnancy and the first year post partum. This new study may change that opinion. A lot of things could make a pregnant woman decide to kill herself. The hormones released often cause women to feel better, but not all of them.

The circumstances of the pregnancy can also play a role. It’s hard for a single woman, especially a teen, to tell her parents that she’s pregnant. While that has changed some over the last few decades, it doesn’t really make it a lot easier, at least from the pregnant woman’s perspective.

How can we, as a society, help these women? There actually are things that can be done. Doctors and nurses are being asked to talk to pregnant women about domestic violence. This is especially important if there is evidence that it has occurred.

Friends, relatives and neighbors should also report incidents as they see/hear them. No one likes to get involved, but you are talking about two lives, both of which are valuable. No one deserves to be abused, nor is murder ever to be condoned.

Screenings need to be done to prevent suicide as well. This is much more difficult, because it no longer takes a medical test to prove pregnancy. In this, parents, teachers and friends are going to have to take the lead. Watch for signs of depression.

Parents, if you suspect sexual activity, watch your daughter for signs of both pregnancy and depression. Even if you don’t condone premarital sex, you don’t want to lose your child or your potential grandchild. Talk to your daughter. Make sure she understands the risks, but don’t discourage her from talking to you should she become pregnant.

If we can lower the death rates from medical complications through science, surely we can reduce the murder/suicide rate through community effort. These women and the children they carry have value. They don’t deserve to die.

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