Friday, September 23, 2005

Victimization of the Severely Mentally Ill

Conventional wisdom says the mentally ill often perpetrate crime, but new data turn that assumption upside-down. The recent Archives of General Psychiatry reports data from the National Crime Victimization Survey showing that the severely and persistantly mentally ill are 12 times as likely to be victimized by crime than the general population. In other words, 25% percent of the severely mentally ill population has suffered a violent crime. By contrast, Steadman found that mentally ill patients did not differ from the general population in rate of crime perpetrated.

The severely and persistantly mentally ill live in the most dangerous social environments due to economic disadvantage, and are the most vulnerable to coersion and exploitation. In this post-institutionalization era, we must find more effective ways to detect and prevent their victimization.

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