Homicide and major mental disorders: a 25-year study

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2004 Aug;110(2):98-107. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0047.2004.00305.x.


Objective: This study was designed to investigate the association between major mental disorders (MMDs) and homicide.

Method: The rates of exculpations because of MMDs among 1087 Austrian homicide offenders during 1975 and 1999 were compared with the rates of the respective disorders in the general population.

Results: MMDs were associated with an increased likelihood of homicide (two-fold in men and six-fold in women). This was exclusively because of schizophrenia (age-adjusted ORs in men 5.85, CI 4.29-8.01; in women 18.38, CI 11.24-31.55) and delusional disorder in men (OR 5.98, CI 1.91-16.51). Comorbid alcohol abuse/dependence (additionally) increased the odds in schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder.

Conclusion: The increased likelihood of homicide in subjects with MMDs cannot be fully explained by comorbid alcoholism. The results point to the special importance of sufficient treatment for a subgroup of mentally ill individuals being at higher risk of violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / complications
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / complications