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Homicide Rate Falls With Community Health Care

Homicide Rate Falls With Community Mental Health Care

The arguments for a return to institutional-type care in the interests of public safety have been blown out of the water by a New Zealand report on mental illness and homicide, according to Chair of the Mental Health Commission Jan Dowland.

The report shows that there was a decline in the proportion of homicides committed by people with a serious mental illness in the 30 years since the transition from institutional care to community care in New Zealand.

“The report confirms what the mental health sector has suspected for many years – that there is no need for the public to be concerned for personal or public safety with the move to community care,” says Ms Dowland.

The report called “Myth and Reality: the Relationship Between Mental Illness and Homicide in New Zealand”, was produced by Auckland Uniservices for the Mental Health Research and Development Strategy.

Every solved homicide in New Zealand between 1970 and 2000 was investigated in the study.

Some of the key findings were: - mentally abnormal homicides comprised 8.9 percent of all homicides in the 30-year period - across the period studied, mentally abnormal homicides fell as a proportion of total homicides from around 20 percent in 1970 to six percent in 2000

“The research undertaken for this report is very important research. While the homicide rate in New Zealand has increased, that rate of homicide by those with serious mental illness has remained static at 0.13 per 100,000 population per year,” says Ms Dowland.

“Every homicide is a tragedy. However, it is good to have research that sets out the facts and dispels myths and anxieties around those with mental illness.”

A full copy of the 60-page report can be downloaded from:

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