LePage weekly address on domestic violence
EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE: The following is Maine Governor Paul LePage's weekly address. It is also attached as an audio clip. Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage. This week, Maine State Police arrested a Waldoboro woman and charged her with murder in connection with the shooting death of her former boyfriend last month. She then turned the gun on herself, but her injury was not fatal. In late July, another tragedy involving a murder suicide took the lives of two people in Hampden. Both of these instances are linked to domestic violence. Unfortunately, domestic violence cases that escalate to homicide are all too familiar to our law enforcement, district attorneys, judges, and communities. In 2011, 28 Mainers were killed. Thirteen of those murders were domestic violence-related. This year we’ve had 13 homicides and five of them were at the hands of someone the victim knew closely. Any murder is difficult for family, friends and loved ones to deal with. But one startling statistic that has surfaced in recent years is the number of murder suicides occurring in our state. This year’s Domestic Violence Report reveals a record number of perpetrators committing suicide following homicides. The report indicates that 70 percent of offenders showed past or current suicidal ideation, attempts, or threats. In two-thirds of those cases, perpetrators killed one or more of their family members before committing suicide. We are also finding that suicidal thoughts or attempts may be an indicator of the risk of future violence toward victims, and that the link between suicide among batterers and increased risk of homicide continues to be minimized or unrecognized by many clinicians and the general public. The panel of experts that compiled this report has several recommendations. Among these include when an individual makes suicidal statements to another person, the panel says the other person should take the statement seriously and either encourage the individual to seek assessment and treatment, or seek a professional’s help in communicating that message to the individual. The panel further recommends that a discussion occur with the person threatening suicide by an appropriate party, such as law enforcement or a health professional, about the possession of or access to, firearms for the safety of that person, the person’s family and the community. My administration will strive to end domestic abuse and introduce laws aimed at protecting victims. We’re working with the people that wrote this report and others like the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence to develop policy. Because domestic violence can turn deadly in the blink of an eye it’s vital that victims know they are not alone. There are resources available. The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence is a group that is dedicated to preventing domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The Coalition provides a range programs that offer the support and services as well as the encouragement and hope that victims need. Additionally, the Coalition provides training and education for the public, employers and educators. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the Coalition and I am grateful for the good and hard work they are committed to. If you or someone you know is being abused please reach out to the Coalition. You can find information on their website at mcedv.org. The only way we can eliminate this violence is to let our voices be heard. And what needs to be said is that this abuse is socially unacceptable. I am asking every Mainer to stand and speak out with me on this issue. Together, we can make Maine safer while we dedicate our message to those that have been taken from us too soon.