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Why linking depression to violent crime could be a red herring | Shirley Reynolds

Mar 2nd, 2015 by

Depression already has considerable stigma which is hard to shift, and there are reasons to treat the violent crime study with caution

New research published in the Lancet journal has revealed that people with depression are about three times more likely to commit a violent crime than someone who is not depressed.

This is an impressive study – based on 47,000 Swedish people – but we need to be extremely cautious about how we interpret the results. The research shows that extremely few depressed people are actually convicted of violent crimes: 3.7% of men and 0.5% of women, compared with 1.2% of men and 0.2% of women in the general population. In fact, depressed people are more at risk of harming themselves than they are of harming anyone else – like Charlie Waller, a young man who killed himself aged 28 and whom the institute I work at is named after.

Related: Diagnosed depression linked to violent crime, says Oxford University study

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