Intended for healthcare professionals


Risk of people with mental illnesses dying by homicide

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 05 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1336
  1. Roger Webb, senior research fellow in psychiatric epidemiology1,
  2. Jenny Shaw, professor of forensic psychiatry1,
  3. Louis Appleby, professor of psychiatry1
  1. 1Centre for Mental Health and Risk, Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. roger.webb{at}

Mentally ill people have an increased risk of becoming victims

Crump and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.f557) report on an important topic that has received little attention in the health sciences literature1: the risk that people with mental illness will die by homicide.2 3 4 This contrasts with the large body of published evidence on the risk of homicide and other acts of serious violence perpetrated by people with psychiatric disorders.5 6 Popular media reporting portrays mental illness as posing a threat to the safety of others,7 8 and these continual stigmatising portrayals may make the violent victimisation of an already marginalised section of society more likely.9 These new research findings therefore deserve to be disseminated widely, so that professional groups and agencies working in mental health, as well as the media and general public, are aware that mentally ill people are at increased risk of becoming victims of someone else’s violence.

Scandinavian registers enable investigation of rare adverse events such as homicide. They provide …

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