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Victim relations and victim gender in violent crimes committed by offenders with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Division of Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, Umeå University, 90185 Umeå, Sweden. annika.nordstrom@psychiat.umu.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Family members and friends appear to be most at risk of becoming victims of violence committed by offenders with major mental disorders. The aim of the present study is to examine, in a national sample, victim relation in violent crimes committed by male offenders with schizophrenia, with special reference to victim gender and the severity of violence.

METHOD:

We identified all violent offenders who were diagnosed with schizophrenia in forensic psychiatric evaluations during the years 1992-2000 and examined their court convictions. In total 588 victims were included, 327 men and 261 women, and distributed into three groups based on their relation to the offender: Family of origin (n = 77), Network (n = 183) and Unacquainted (n = 328).

RESULTS:

The majority of the victims were unacquainted with the offender, but the violence was less severe in this group. Among family members, e. g. parents, siblings and grandparents, there were more female than male victims (60 % vs 40 %), and victims in families, as well as males within the offender's network, were those most likely to be seriously or fatally injured. Female family victims, in particular mothers, were those most likely to die as victims of severe violence.

CONCLUSIONS:

The study highlights the risk for family members and the immediate network of becoming a target of violence. Mental health services together with community-based services have an important task in identifying risk situations and taking preventive measures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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