WHO defines violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. This includes interpersonal violence (occurring between individuals), self-directed violence (suicide and other forms of self-harm) and collective violence (occurring between groups, such as wars).

WHO has estimated that over 158 000 deaths occur in European Region every year, of these 123 000 are due to self-directed violence and 31 000 to interpersonal violence.

Interpersonal violence is strongly associated with socioeconomic conditions: the risk of death is 7.4 times higher in low- or middle-income European countries than in high-income countries. Regardless of country income, the socioeconomically deprived are at much greater risk than the well-off. Males comprise the vast majority of both perpetrators and victims, and have a higher risk of violent death.

The consequences of violence may have a lifelong impact and implementing effective preventive interventions and policies may greatly reduce violence and its health, social and developmental consequences.

Specific areas of interpersonal violence are:    

  • alcohol and interpersonal violence
  • child maltreatment
  • elder maltreatment
  • violence against women
  • youth violence.