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Homicidal death greatly increased amongst those with mental illness (Sweden)

March 7, 2013

In this month’s issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Swedish researchers reveal that mortality rates due to homicide are more than doubled if an individual has a mental illness or substance use disorder, irrespective of age, sex or other sociodemographic factors.

Researchers reviewed the entire Swedish population and homicidal deaths during the years 2001 to 2008. Results showed that of the 615 murders, mortality rates per 100,000 were 2.8 for people with mental illness or substance use disorders, compared to 1.1 in the general population.

Any mental disorder was associated with an almost five fold risk of homicidal death relative to those without a mental illness. More specifically, people with a substance use disorder had a nine-fold risk of being murdered while those with personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorder or schizophrenia experienced a 3.2 fold, 2.6 fold, 2.2 fold and 1.8 fold risk respectively.

While the media is full of examples of violence perpetrated by those with a mental disorder or substance use problem, it is clear that people experiencing these challenges are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

You can read the online article titled, “Mental disorders and vulnerability to homicidal death: Swedish nationwide cohort study” on the BMJ website.

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