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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Schizophrenia and Violence

In general, people with schizophrenia are not violent. In fact, they are more likely to withdraw from people and not want to be bothered.

However, in the case of violence for the person with schizophrenia it would most likely be against themselves in the form of suicide. Suicidal thoughts is a symptom of schizophrenia, the voices may encourage one to harm themself or others in some cases. Ten percent of people with schizophrenia will commit suicide. This is especially true for young males. Also, suicide is prevalent among the first ten years of illness. 50 Signs of Mental Illness states: "Rates of suicide are twenty times higher among drug and alcohol abusers than among nonabusers". If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts they should seek immediate professional assistance. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

The following factors make a person with schizophrenia prone to violence: 1) past history of violence (prior to illness) just like the general public, 2) drug and alcohol abuse similar to the general population, 3) not taking medication, 4) low socio-economic status, 5) young, and 6) male gender. Also, severe psychotic symptoms increase the risk of violence. The person with schizophrenia may think that others are trying to harm them and respond with violence. In any event, the people most affected by violent acts would most likely be family and friends, and the violent act would occur in the home.

Again, people with schizophrenia are generally not violent unless they have the same characteristics as the stated factors. Suicide is the most common act of violence among people with schizophrenia. Suicide attempts are not practiced by all people with schizophrenia, just a small percentage of them. If you or someone you know is considering suicide contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK.


50 Signs of Mental Illness by James Whitney Hicks, M.D.


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