Editorials

Homicides and suicides by mentally ill people

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7024.135 (Published 20 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:135
  1. Allan House
  1. Senior lecturer Department of Liaison Psychiatry, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds LS1 3EX

    Systematic data collection cannot be left to the discretion of clinicians

    The confidential inquiry into suicides and homicides by mentally ill people was set up in 1992 by Britain's Department of Health, following consultation with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Its remit is to inquire into homicides and suicides committed by patients under the care of or recently discharged by, the specialist psychiatric services; to identify factors in the patients' management that might be related to the deaths; and to recommend preventive measures. A preliminary report on homicide was published in 1994,1 followed this year by the publication of the inquiry's first full reports.2

    The inquiry identified cases by searching through the Home Office records for homicides committed by anyone in whom a previous psychiatric history was noted or who subsequently became the responsibility of the specialist services under the powers of the Mental Health Act 1983. Suicides were notified on a voluntary basis by district psychiatric audit representatives. In both cases, information was subsequently obtained by questionnaires mailed to the …

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