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May 11, 2005
90% Sweden Murderers Mentally Ill?
Read more... Schizophrenia, Poverty & Crime
90% of Swedish murderers are Mentally ill: Study Suggests
While not directly relevant to the USA, an estimated 90 percent of murderers in Sweden are mentally ill, a higher percentage than believed previously, suggests a Swedish study which has been published by The American Journal of Psychiatry in November of 2004.
Moreover, concluded the researchers, their findings underline the importance of psychiatric assessment in homicide offenders and suggest that treatment might have a preventive role.
The Swedish situation is very different from that in countries where organized crime, illegal drug use, and easy access to guns (such as in the USA) result in a higher percentage of murders committed by people who are not certifiably mentally ill than in Western Europe, the study's authors acknowledged.
In the study researchers examined the court psychiatry records and other medical evidence for 2,000 people found guilty of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or attempted manslaughter between 1998 and 2001 in Sweden.
The psychiatric / brain disorders covered in the study included schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression. Many of the convicted people had two or more of these, and half had a history of substance abuse.
This percentage is higher than in other studies in comparable Western European countries, possibly because the Swedish researchers had access to more complete evidence, the researchers said.
The researchers Martin Grann and Seena Fazel from the Karolinska Institute claimed that their research conclusions could even be on the low side because many killers commit suicide and therefore never have the chance to undergo psychiatric tests that would otherwise determine a diagnosis.
The study is interesting, however, in that it hints that if a country provides effective and early treatment for brain disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. - as well as minimizes organized crime, drug trade and (perhaps most easily accomplished) reduce the easy access to weapons/firearms - that a country could largely eliminate the causes of violent death in the country.
As acknowledged in the study, however, in the USA the percent of murders committed by mentally ill people is very low as a percent of the total (because of the ease of availability of firearms so that people with temporary emotional problems or drug and alcohol abuse problems cause the most deaths).
Researchers currently estimate that approximately 38,000 people are killed each year in the USA from firearms, and perhaps a few thousand each year killed by people with brain disorders. Efforts to reduce these deaths through reduced firearm access and better treatment of the mentally ill could quickly make the country much safer.
Posted by szadmin at May 11, 2005 06:11 PM
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