Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Schizophrenia murders 'exceptionally rare and unpredictable'

  • Comment

The chances of someone being killed by a stranger suffering from schizophrenia are one in 14 million, researchers have claimed.

Scientists have said that public fears about being attacked by a mentally ill stranger were “completely misplaced” as deaths caused by people with the mental disease who are unknown to their victims are “exceptionally rare and unpredictable”.

Australian psychiatrists from the University of New South Wales in Sydney compared the characteristics of 42 patients who had killed strangers with a matched sample who killed family members.

The research, published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, found that those who killed strangers were more likely to be homeless and have a history of anti-social behaviour. Their victims were more likely to be male and the killings rarely took place in their home or workplace. More than half the perpetrators in both groups had never been treated for the mental illness.

Co-author Dr Olav Nielssen, from the University of New South Wales, said: “Most of the patients in the study were not receiving treatment, and providing earlier treatment to first episode patients and a good standard of care to all patients with established illness could prevent some of these tragic events.”

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.