Bad Science has an excellent article about the almost unreported news that homicides by people with mental illness have dropped dramatically in England and Wales, despite the fact that murders by people without mental illness have increased.
Right now I‚Äôm looking at a press release on a story which seems pretty important to me: people with serious mental illnesses are committing fewer murders than ever before, by a truly enormous margin. Homicides in this group increased from around 40 a year in the 1950s to 100 a year in the 1970s, in line with a similar increase in the general population. But while murders by people like you have continued to increase, and roughly trebled (0.6 per 100,000 of population in the 1950s, and almost 2 per 100,000 now), murders by people with serious mental illnesses, despite the hype and the fear, the public pronouncements and the headlines, have come down massively since the 1970s, to fewer than 20 a year today.
Ben laments the fact that even a hint of a connection between mental illness and murder makes front page news, stigmatising those with mental disorders and unnecessarily increasing prejudice, while news based on thorough research showing that these fears are unreasonable and unfounded barely raises a byline.
Indeed, it’s rare that positive mental illness news is made ‘sexy’ by the media. The nearest we get is when celebrities admit that they’ve suffered depression. Eating and anxiety disorders are occasionally discussed but it’s rare that psychosis is ever discussed in terms of recovery and by celebrities who have experienced it.
By the way, the picture is of bluesman and ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green who spent some tough years in psychiatric hospital, apparently diagnosed with schizophrenia, but is still as rock n’ roll as ever – recording and touring with some of his best material.