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Up to half of people shot dead by US police may have untreated mental illness, report estimates

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6784 (Published 14 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6784
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Between a quarter and a half of people shot dead by the police in the United States had an untreated mental illness, a new report has estimated. “Given the prevalence of mental illness in police shootings, reducing encounters between on-duty law enforcement and individuals with the most severe psychiatric diseases may represent the single most immediate, practical strategy for reducing fatal police shootings in the United States,” the report concluded.1

The use of deadly force by police has become a major topic of debate in the US after a spate of shootings, caught on cell phone videos by bystanders and posted on the internet, have shown police firing on people, some of whom were unarmed or appeared to pose no immediate threat to officers.

The …

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