The researchers used databases from the Swedish government to identify people with mental illness and cause of death among the entire Swedish adult population from 2001 to 2008. Lead author Dr. Casey Crump says that the results of this study are consistent with similar studies.
To be specific, when compared with a control group:
· Drug users are 9 times more likely to be murdered
· Those with personality disorders run 3 times the risk
· Depression patients run 2.5 times the risk
· Anxiety and schizophrenia run twice the risk
A link to the study can be found here
As an interesting aside, In Sweden (where this research study was done) you are 5 times LESS likely to be murdered overall when compared with the United States.
So why are you more likely to be murdered if you have mental illness? Here are some likely contributing factors:
SES: People in lower socioeconomic status groups share a couple things with mental illness. For starters, if you are a lower SES, you are more likely to have mental illness. The more debilitating mental illnesses (schizophrenia, bipolar, drug abuse) have a much more difficult time finding and maintaining work, so it would be no surprise that they have less income. Also, lower SES groups and mental illness share a genetic heritage in that both groups are more likely to experience the same plights in life (here: mental illness and low SES) as their parents.
Dangerous Situations: For drug abusers, this is obvious. In order to get drugs, you inevitably have to deal with Shady McShadesters, and we know that these people are not always completely stable. Combine that lack of stability with the fact that these drug dealers are also more likely to be dealing with some type or combination of mental illness themselves with the additional factor of their potentially being armed, and we can quickly see where this is a much more volatile situation than sitting on the couch and watching sitcoms. In the case of many other types of mental illnesses, one common factor is that they have a more difficult time controlling their emotions. Thus, their arguments and altercations may be much more susceptible to a heightened level of intensity, and the people in which these altercations are involved are probably more likely to want to harm them given the circumstances.
Criminality: A sad fact of US care for the mentally ill is the running joke that the biggest psychiatric institutions these days are jails. Chronically low functioning mentally ill have very little resources in our country, especially in Texas, and what little resources there are will often be found to be rationed in the name of budgetary concerns. So what we find is that rather than finding solace in treatment centers and hospitals and receiving proper care, these poor folks are out committing crimes, sometimes purposefully so they can be arrested for the simple fact that jail is a roof over their heads and food available. Committing crimes however, puts these people in dangerous situations, raising the likelihood of harm befalling them.
To summarize: until we get more serious about mental health as a society, all of these sad statistics we will continue to see. Mortality rates that are significantly elevated when compared to the general population will continue to be a fact of life.
Proper counseling and psychiatric care can do wonders in mitigating these statistics. And proactive approaches like mental health checkups can do wonders for helping to make sure that problems are caught early, treated properly, and not left to swell into larger issues that by and large were completely preventable.
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