"Mental Illness and Murder"

Mental Illness and Murder

Contrary to popular belief, homicide due to mental illness is declining, at least in England and Wales:

The rate of total homicide and the rate of homicide due to mental disorder rose steadily until the mid-1970s. From then there was a reversal in the rate of homicides attributed to mental disorder, which declined to historically low levels, while other homicides continued to rise.

I have no doubt that in England and Wales, where there is universal health care and mentally ill individuals are able to take their medication because it is affordable or free, homicides committed by MI people have declined.

I've been a psychiatric social worker for 15 years, and I can tell you EXACTLY why other industrialized countries have lower rates of murder by severely mentally ill people - universal healthcare with parity between "physical" and "mental" illnesses. (Since all "mental" illness is actually physical, there should be no distinction made.)

Even US statistics show that mentally ill people are LESS violent than the general population when treated with medication. But effective antipsychotics tend to cost $800-2000 per month. Even the "wealthiest" people on SSI Or SSDI (disability) have entire incomes under $1200/month. Those $1200/month folks made six figures when working, BTW. The typical disabled MI person gets $200-500/ month for rent, food, medicine, utilities, transportation, and physical care necessities such as soap and shampoo and toilet paper. Even the lowest income medicaid recipient usually has a a monthly "spend down" (like a deductible) often EXCEEDING their actual monthly income. Living expenses are not considered when figuring spend down either. And medicare folks don't fare much better, their medicine is paid for (with a copay) for several months, then they hit a "donut hole" where medicare doesn't pay another cent until they have spent $2000-10,000 of their own income on the medication before medicare kicks back in. Again, living expenses are not considered and the demanded contribution often exceeds the person's actual income. You do the math.

Most mentally ill people, especially those who have hurt others when off medications, desperately want treatment. Virtually every murder by a mentally ill person is caused by all of us neglecting them and refusing them necessary healthcare. We can court order violent people for mandatory treatment all we want, but if they can't afford the medicine they aren't GETTING effective treatment. Even the most violently criminally insane person effectively has NO access to the treatment that would control their symptoms and prevent tragedies. Until we change that, innocents will suffer and die. And we will all be culpable.


Krista said...

Singing to the choir here :)


Thanks for the comment.