Death by Homicide, Suicide, and Other Unnatural Causes in People with Mental Illness

School of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, University of Manchester, University Hospital of South Manchester, M20 8LR, Manchester, UK.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 45.22). 12/2001; 358(9299):2110-2. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(01)07216-6
Source: PubMed


People with mental illness are at great risk of suicide, but little is known about their risk of death from other unnatural causes. No study has commented on their risk of being victims of homicide; public concern is pre-occupied with their role as perpetrators. We aimed to calculate standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) and directly standardised rate ratios for death by homicide, suicide, and accident in people admitted to hospital because of mental illness.
We did a population-based study in which we linked the data for 72208 individuals listed in the Danish Psychiatric Case Register between 1973 and 1993, and who died before Dec 31, 1993, with data in the Danish National Register of Causes of Death.
17892 (25%) patients died from unnatural causes. Our results show raised SMRs for homicide, suicide, and accident for most psychiatric diagnoses irrespective of sex. The all-diagnosis SMRs for women and men, respectively, were: 632 (95% CI 517-773) and 609 (493-753) for homicide, 1356 (1322-1391) and 1212 (1184-1241) for suicide, and 318 (305-332) and 466 (448-484) for accident. We recorded an increased risk of dying by homicide in men with schizophrenia and in individuals with affective psychosis. The highest risks of death by homicide and accident were in alcoholism and drug use, whereas the highest risks of suicide were in drug use.
People with mental disorders, including severe mental illness, are at increased risk of death by homicide. Strategies to reduce mortality in the mentally ill are correct to emphasise the high risk of suicide, but they should also focus on other unnatural causes of death.

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    • "People with mental illness also have lower rates of access to and utilization of health care, poor chronic disease treatment compliance and a higher risk of adverse outcomes [12-15]. Finally, those with mental illness use tobacco more than the general population [16], and their rates for both intentional (e.g., homicide, suicide) and unintentional (e.g., motor vehicle) injuries are two to six times higher than in the general population [17,18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Mental illness represents an important public health problem. Local-level data concerning mental illness in different populations (e.g., socio-demographics and residence – metropolitan/urban/rural) provides the evidence-base for public health authorities to plan, implement and evaluate control programs. This paper describes prevalence and covariates of psychiatric conditions in Georgia populations in three defined geographic areas. Methods Data came from the Georgia population-based random-digit-dialing study investigating unwellness and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in Georgia populations of three defined geographic areas (metropolitan, urban, and rural). Respondents were screened for symptoms of fatigue, sleep, cognition, and pain at household screening interviews, and a randomly selected sample completed detailed individual phone interviews. Based on the detailed phone interviews, we conducted one-day clinical evaluations of 292 detailed interview participants classified as unwell with a probable CFS (i.e. CFS-like; a functional somatic syndrome), 268 classified as other unwell, and 223 well (matched to CFS-like). Clinical evaluation included psychiatric classification by means of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM (SCID). To derive prevalence estimates we used sample weighting to account for the complexity of the multistage sampling design. We used 2- and 3-way table analyses to examine socio-demographic and urbanicity specific associations and multiple logistic regression to calculate adjusted odds ratios. Results Anxiety and mood disorders were the most common psychiatric conditions. Nineteen percent of participants suffered a current anxiety disorder, 18% a mood disorder and 10% had two or more conditions. There was a significant linear trend in occurrence of anxiety or mood disorders from well to CFS-like. The most common anxiety disorders were post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (6.6%) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (5.8%). Logistic regression showed that lower education and female sex contributed significantly to risk for both PTSD and GAD. In addition, rural/urban residence and Hispanic ethnicity were associated with PTSD. We defined moderate to severe depression as Major Depressive Disorder or a Zung score >60 and logistic regression found lower education to be significantly associated but sex, age and urbanicity were not. Conclusions Overall occurrence of anxiety and mood disorders in Georgia mirrored national findings. However, PTSD and GAD occurred at twice the published national rates (3.6 and 2.7%, respectively). State and local prevalence and associations with education, sex and urbanicity comprise important considerations for developing control programs. The increased prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders in people with a functional somatic syndrome (or CFS-like illness) is important for primary care providers, who should consider additional psychiatric screening or referral of individuals presenting with somatoform symptoms.
    BMC Public Health 04/2013; 13(1):414. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-13-414 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    • "Hazard ratios of 1.4 for women and 1.5 for men (natural causes only – excluding suicide, homicide and accident) [18,33], and 2.1 (women) and 2.7 (men) [34] have been reported. In addition, depressed patients have highly elevated risks of unnatural deaths [35]. The estimate we found of the excess mortality in the inpatient sample here was similar, but changed when patients with anxiety were removed from the depressed sample. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Anxiety and depression are the most common psychiatric disorders and are the cause of a large and increasing amount of sick-leave in most developed countries. They are also implicated as an increasing mortality risk in community surveys. In this study we addressed, whether sick leave due to anxiety, depression or comorbid anxiety and depression was associated with increased risk of retirement due to permanent disability and increased mortality in a cohort of German workers. Methods 128,001 German workers with statutory health insurance were followed for a mean of 6.4 years. We examined the associations between 1) depression/anxiety-related sick leave managed on an outpatient basis and 2) anxiety/depression-related psychiatric inpatient treatment, and later permanent disability/mortality using Cox proportional hazard regression models (stratified by sex and disorder) adjusted for age, education and job code classification. Results Outpatient-managed depression/anxiety-related sick leave was significantly associated with higher permanent disability (hazard ratio (95% confidence interval)) 1.48 (1.30, 1.69) for depression, 1.25 (1.07, 1.45) for anxiety, 1.91 (1.56, 2.35) for both). Among outpatients, comorbidly ill men (2.59 (1.97,3.41)) were more likely to retire early than women (1.42 (1.04,1.93)). Retirement rates were higher for depressive and comorbidly ill patients who needed inpatient treatment (depression 3.13 (2,51, 3,92), both 3.54 (2.80, 4.48)). Inpatient-treated depression was also associated with elevated mortality (2.50 (1.80, 3.48)). Anxiety (0.53 (0.38, 0.73)) and female outpatients with depression (0.61 (0.38, 0.97)) had reduced mortality compared to controls. Conclusions Depression/anxiety diagnoses increase the risk of early retirement; comorbidity and severity further increase that risk, depression more strikingly than anxiety. Sickness-absence diagnoses of anxiety/depression identified a population at high risk of retiring early due to ill health, suggesting a target group for the development of interventions.
    BMC Public Health 02/2013; 13(1):145. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-13-145 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    • "For inpatient men, a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of 3.64 could be shown, while female patients had an SMR of 3.58 for mortality due to natural causes [4]. It can be replicated that both genders have exceptionally high excess mortality due to homicide, suicide, and accidents [3,28,29], up to an almost 17-fold increase. Notable gender differences are in the area of accidents [29] and suicides [27], for which women appear to have a higher risk. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are associated with the highest all-cause mortality rates of all mental disorders. The majority of patients with AUDs never receive inpatient treatment for their AUD, and there is lack of data about their mortality risks despite their constituting the majority of those affected. Absenteeism from work (sick leave) due to an AUD likely signals worsening. In this study, we assessed whether AUD-related sick leave was associated with mortality in a cohort of workers in Germany. Methods 128,001 workers with health insurance were followed for a mean of 6.4 years. We examined the associations between 1) AUD-related sick leave managed on an outpatient basis and 2) AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment, and mortality using survival analysis, and Cox proportional hazard regression models (separately by sex) adjusted for age, education, and job code classification. We also stratified analyses by sick leave related to three groups of alcohol-related conditions (all determined by International Classification of Diseases 9th ed. (ICD-9) codes): alcohol abuse and dependence; alcohol-induced mental disorder; and alcohol-induced medical conditions. Results Outpatient-managed AUD-related sick leave was significantly associated with higher mortality (hazard ratio (HR) 2.90 (95% Confidence interval (CI) 2.24-3.75) for men, HR 5.83 (CI 2.90-11.75) for women). The magnitude of the association was similar for receipt of AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment (HR 3.2 (CI 2.76-3.78) for men, HR 6.5 (CI 4.41-9.47) for women). Compared to those without the conditions, higher mortality was observed consistently for outpatients and inpatients across the three groups of alcohol-related conditions. Those with alcohol-related medical conditions who had AUD-related psychiatric inpatient treatment appeared to have the highest mortality. Conclusions Alcohol use disorder-related sick leave as documented in health insurance records is associated with higher mortality. Such sick leave does not necessarily lead to any specific AUD treatment. Therefore, AUD-related sick leave might be used as a trigger for insurers to intervene by offering AUD treatment to patients to try to reduce their risk of death.
    Addiction science & clinical practice 01/2013; 8(1):3. DOI:10.1186/1940-0640-8-3
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