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The Mentally Ill Are More Likely to Be Victims Than Perpetrators of Violence

Picture: Vitaly Efimenko (CC)

Graham Brown writing at Bipolar World, from 2005:

In this article there is summarised the results of just a few studies regarding mental illness and violence from a number of very respectable sources to allow a fair and unbiased assessment of the risk posed by those with a mental illness for you, the reader, to consider.

Firstly, from the Canadian Mental Health Association and it’s pamphlet – “Violence and Mental Illness”,

In today’s media reports about mental illness, there is a tendency to emphasise a supposed risk between violence and mental illness.  News stories regularly suggest that there is a strong connection between mental illness and crime.  In fact, people with a mental illness are more likely to be the victims, rather than the perpetrators of violence.”

“Recent studies have showed that alcohol and substance abuse far outweigh mental illness in contributing to violence.  A 1996 Health Canada review of scientific articles found that the strongest predictor of violence and criminal behaviour is not major mental illness, but past history and criminality.”

On the question of does mental illness cause violence?  The CMHA does go on to say:

“Mental illness plays no part in the majority of violent crimes committed in our society.  The assumption that any and every mental illness carries with it an almost certain potential for violence has been proven wrong in many studies.

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