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A study from Northwestern University and funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that mental disorders do not predict future violence. The only mental illnesses linked directly to violence are substance abuse disorders. The study specifically found that depression is not linked to violence among males.
The Northwestern Medicine longitudinal study of delinquent youth did find that some delinquent youth with current psychiatric illness may also be violent, but the relationships between the mental disorder and violence are not necessarily causal. Delinquent youth, with or without mental illnesses, are often subject to multiple risk factors. Living in violent and impoverished neighborhoods, the study concludes, is a better predictor of violent behavior than are mental illnesses like depression. Substance abuse and dependence are also far more closely linked with violent behavior.
The press release for the study specifically cited the tragic plane wreck in France.
"Our findings are relevant to the recent tragic plane crash in the French Alps. Our findings show that no one could have predicted that the pilot - who apparently suffered from depression - - would perpetrate this violent act," said corresponding author Linda Teplin, the Owen L. Coon Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It is not merely a suicide, but an act of mass homicide."
Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the study concludes that providing treatment to persons with psychiatric disorders could reduce potential for violence. It cautions, however, that the illnesses themselves are not likely the primary motivator or predictor of violent behavior.
The study used data from the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago between 1995 and 1998. A total of 1,659 youths aged 13 to 25 years were interviewed up to four times between three and five years after detention.
Source: Northwestern University PR
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