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Schizophrenia: Warning Signs of Violence


Topic Overview

People with schizophrenia are more likely to exhibit violent behavior than those without a psychiatric condition.1 The only other group that regularly displays violent behavior are those with alcohol abuse or dependence problems. Those with both schizophrenia and alcohol problems are the most likely to commit violent acts.

Violence is one of the reasons someone with schizophrenia needs hospitalization. It is a way to protect the person or those around him or her until the delusions or hallucinations often associated with the violence pass.

Common signs that can indicate someone with schizophrenia may become violent include:

  • Talking about violence, especially when directed toward specific people or groups of people (such as past coworkers) or places, such as churches or government buildings.
  • Talking, writing, or drawing about death and violence.
  • Having unexplained mood changes or behaving aggressively or violently. Aggressive acts may include teasing and taunting other people by calling them names; threatening, making fun of, or playing mind games with other people; or making threatening phone calls.
  • Buying or talking about having weapons or other means, such as poisons, that could hurt or kill people.
  • Not taking responsibility for his or her actions or saying that the actions are justified because of how he or she has been treated.
  • Drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs more frequently.
  • Increased fears of other people (paranoia).
  • Telling someone that he or she hears voices telling him or her to hurt or kill another person.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Minzenberg MJ, et al. (2008). Schizophrenia. In RE Hales et al., eds., The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry, 5th ed., pp. 1–42. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMiklos Ferenc Losonczy, MD, PhD - Psychiatry
Last RevisedAugust 19, 2010

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