Contacts with public services, with special reference to mental health care, preceding a serious crime: a retrospective study of 268 subjects of forensic psychiatric investigations.

Abstract

Between July 1995 and June 1996, 533 subjects underwent forensic psychiatric investigation I Sweden. Odd case numbers (n = 268) were included in the study. Of these 268 people, 50% had been in contact with psychiatric services during the six-month period preceding the crime leading to forensic psychiatric assessment. Contacts with psychiatric services during the six-month period preceding the crime were significantly more common in three categories of individuals than others. These were: women, individuals who were diagnosed as having a psychotic disorder during the forensic psychiatric investigation, and individuals found to suffer from a serious mental disorder as defined in the legislation. Subjects who were found not to suffer from a serious mental disorder and were thus not eligible for special sanctions on medicolegal grounds had significantly less psychiatric contacts before the crime, as did subjects under 20 years of age. However, these two groups still had considerably more psychiatric contacts than the general population. The present results suggest that the patient category studied requires special monitoring and case management in general psychiatry in Sweden. To this end, we call for closer studies of high-risk individuals, particularly of previously violent offenders and potentially violent offenders, and closer studies of their psychiatric contacts. This will provide a basis for the development of adequate programs and guidelines for effective care and treatment within the psychiatric sector.