“When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes so they get stuck in people’s heads,”
said lead researcher Jillian Peterson, PhD.
“The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous.”
The researchers also found that two-thirds of the offenders who had committed crimes directly related to their mental illness symptoms also had committed unrelated crimes for other reasons, such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness and substance abuse.
The researchers studied over 400 offenders with serious mental disorders (defined as Axis-I disorders in the DSM-IV psychiatric manual), and were unable to find a subgroup of offenders who committed offences only or mostly related to symptoms of their mental illness. Surprisingly, the mental illness most likely to be linked to crime was bipolar – one of the most common mental illnesses in the general population.
Source: Peterson, J. K., Skeem, J., Kennealy, P., Bray, B., & Zvonkovic, A. (2014). How often and how consistently do symptoms directly precede criminal behavior among offenders with mental illness? download
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