Crime and mental illness not necessarily linked, says study


A study published by the American Psychological Association in Law and Human Behavior shows that only 7.5 percent of all crimes were directly related to a serious mental disorder. Researchers studied 429 crimes that were committed by 143 different offenders with three types of mental illness. The results showed that most of the crimes committed were not due to mental illness.

In the study, the researchers found that three percent of the crimes committed were a direct result of major depression, four percent due to schizophrenia, and ten percent due to bipolar disorder. Lead researcher Jillian Peterson, PhD of Normandale Community College stated that "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. The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous."

The study is the first to analyze the connection between mental illness and crime and found no predictable patterns linking crime and mental illness. The study assessed only those with the three common mental disorders listed (major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder). It was based on two hour interviews with defendants of a mental health court in Minneapolis.

A PDF of the study can be read at this link.


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