A new study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal has shown that a stressful moment in life can trigger people to commit violent crimes. It was found by researchers that after only a week of the stressful event happening, individuals were more likely to do commit a violent crime themselves. Researchers are hoping this new study will help them determine if it’s possible to predict when a mentally ill person would most likely commit a crime.
Data was studied from people who were born in Sweden between 1958 and 1988 by Oxford University Professor Seena Fazel and her colleagues. Researchers focused on two groups and various violent triggers: patients with psychotic disorders and patients without a diagnosis.
The link between six triggers was examined: exposure to violence, parental bereavement, self-harm, traumatic brain injury, unintentional injuries and substance intoxication. It was found that the greatest trigger for violent crime was exposure to it.
Data from more than 2.8 million people was studied by researchers, which included 29.7 thousand patients with bipolar disorder, 34.9 thousand patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and more than 2.7 million unaffected patients. The latter group was used for comparison to the other two.
It was discovered that the three groups acted differently after being to violent crime. Schizophrenia patients had the highest chance to commit a crime, then bipolar disorder patients followed in likelihood and lastly, the unaffected individuals.
‘These findings support the hypothesis that recent exposure to a stressful life event,” the study states, “an intentional or unintentional injury, or having been diagnosed with substance intoxication increases the short-term risk of interpersonal violence in individuals with psychotic disorders and in controls.”
“Knowledge of such recent risk factors for violence more generally is important,” Professor Fazel said, “as it helps clinicians and other professionals identify areas that they can treat or manage.”