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Mentally ill patients more vulnerable to violence

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London, June 21 (IANS) Contrary to popular belief, mentally ill patients may be at greater risk of becoming victims of homicide than people without mental illness, says a new study.

"The findings of our study are an important reminder that although the overall risk of patients committing homicide is greater than the risk of being a victim of homicide, mentally ill people are often vulnerable to the violence of others," Cathryn Rodway, a research associate at the University of Manchester in Britain was quoted as saying.

People have generally been more concerned about violence by mental health patients than the potential vulnerability of those patients to violent acts by others, the researchers said.

For the study, researchers examined data on the victims and perpetrators of all homicides in England and Wales between January 2003 and December 2005.

Among all the 1,496 homicide victims during this period, 6 percent (90) had been under the care of mental health services in the year before their death, and about one-third (29) of the victims who had mental illnesses were killed by other patients with mental illnesses.

"The increased risk may be related to the patient’s social environment, their use of alcohol or drugs, or the people with whom they come into contact, including other patients with a history of violence," Rodway told Live Science.

The findings appeared in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.

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