Violent acts directed at, not committed by, the mentally ill should concern us most.
In the wake of highly-publicized acts of violence perpetrated by mentally ill individuals, many have found it necessary to emphasize that such events are incredibly rare. On the population level, mental illness is in fact exceedingly common, yet people with mental illness are responsible for only 5 to 10 percent of violent crimes.
They are also nearly five more likely to be the victim of murder, according to a new study in BMJ.
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American and Swedish researchers were among the first to examine the murder rate among the mentally ill, evaluating a cohort of over 7 million Swedish adults over a period of seven years.
They found that the risk of being murdered was highest, at nine-fold, for people with substance use disorders, a number that may of course be subject to confounding lifestyle variables. But it was also increased for people with other mental illnesses in a way that couldn't be explained by substance use.