Mental Health Disorder Linked to Violence and Other Crimes

violent crime

violent crimeAre mental health disorder linked to violence and other crimes?   Or, are the mentally ill victims of this violence?

A recent study conducted by Oxford University, Department of Psychiatry and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute shows people with severe mental illness are responsible for one in every 20 violent crimes.  Forty five violent crimes were committed by 1,000 inhabitants. Of these, 2.4 were inherent to patients with severe mental illness.  This means that 5.2% of all violent crimes over the period were committed by people with severe mental illness, including manic depression and other psychoses.  When the figures were broken down to details, it shows that;

18%  of  murders and attempted murders were committed by people with mental illness.  15.7% of arsons.  7.5% of threats and harassments.  7% of assaulting an officer.  6.3% of aggravated assaults.  3.6% robberies and 3% common assaults.  These figures were based on 13 year data from Sweden by researchers from Oxford.

On the contrary there are opinions and views that, “ having a severe mental health problem does not make a person violent. In fact schizophreniacs are more likely to be the victims of violence.  There are also other opinions that violent acts, in a very small proportion, were committed by  people with severe mental illness.”

In the other study conducted by University of Leipzig, Germany, results were discovered that proportion of violent crimes committed by people suffering from the disease is minimal.  In fact, unfamiliar persons appear to be at an even lower risk of being violently attacked by someone suffering from severe mental disorder that by someone who is mentally healthy.

As researchers continue to assess whether mental health disorder is linked to violence and other crimes, the focus is to identify factors which may decrease or increase the risk of violent  behavior among the mentally ill.  Whatever is the outcome of the ongoing study and exhaustive medical research, this will serve as a very good information to the public about the risk of  being a victim of violence perpetrated by a mentally ill.

Below is useful information about different types of psychosis as enumerated by the Delta Project:

  1.  Schizophrenia – Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a person with multiple personalites. It  is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by a deficit of typical emotional responses.  Symptoms may include hallucinations, paranoia, bizarre delusions.  It is accompanied by social or occupational dysfunction.
  2.  Bipolar disorder – people with this disorder often experience mood swings. Sometimes they are experiencing highs (mania) and lows ( depression) and psychosis can appear during either phase.  Psychotic thinking usually fits in with the person’s mood at the time.
  3.  Delusional Disorder – characterized by a symptom, delusions.  This is when a person holds strong beliefs that do not fit in with other people’s interpretation of reality.  They begin to act on these beliefs.
  4. Psychotic Mania – a  person experience a severe depression but with psychotic symptoms happening at the same time.  It is different from bipolar disorders because the individual does not experience any mania.
  5. Schizoaffective Disorder – similar to bipolar and psychotic depression.  Symptoms of either psychosis or mood disturbance occurs at the same time but there is usually a period of time when there is psychosis present but no mood disturbance.  Throughout the total duration of illness, the mood  disturbance represents a significant portion of time spent unwell.

Anthony Derayunan

for the Guardian Express