Volume 40, Issue 3 (May 1995)
Homicide in Psychiatric In-Patient Facilities: A Review, a Six-Year Study, and a Case Report
Many research studies have attempted to explore the apparent relationship between mental illness and violence. These studies have generally examined the rates of violence during one of three phases: before, after, or during psychiatric hospitalization. Violence that takes place during psychiatric hospitalization has unique implications for both patients, treatment facilities, and for research on violence. This area therefore deserves special study. This article focusses on the most extreme violence that can take place on the wards of a psychiatric facility, assaults resulting in death. This article reviews the literature in this area, reports on a study of the incidence of such occurrences in New York State, and reports in some detail on an additional case which occurred prior to the period under study. The study presented here found that amongst all psychiatric facilities in New York State in a six year period there were three cases of in-patient homicide. An average of approximately 90,000 people were served within these facilities during each of the years under study. Suggestions are made for further research in this area.