Some people diagnosed with schizophrenia are more prone to committing acts of serious violence, especially in the presence of drug or alcohol misuse. The rarity of homicide has meant that no large controlled study has previously examined clinical risk factors.
To determine the risk factors for homicide by males diagnosed with schizophrenia.
A national nested case–control study of all previously admitted males diagnosed with schizophrenia, convicted of homicide between 1 January 1997 and 31 December 2012. Univariate and multivariable conditional logistic regression models were fitted to identify predictors of homicide in this population.
During the observation period 160 male patients with schizophrenia and a history of psychiatric admission were convicted of homicide, and they were matched with 542 male control patients who had not been convicted of homicide. Patients who committed homicide were more likely to have a history of violence and comorbid personality disorder or drug misuse. They were more likely to have missed their last contact with services prior to the offence and to have been non-adherent with their treatment plan. Almost all (94%) of homicides were committed by patients who had a history of alcohol or drug misuse and/or who were not in receipt of planned treatment.
In England and Wales, homicides by patients with schizophrenia without substance misuse and in receipt of planned care are exceptionally rare. To prevent serious violence, mental health services should focus on drug and alcohol misuse, treatment adherence and maintaining contact with services.