Mortality: In a study of over 168,000 Swedish citizens undergoing psychiatric treatment, schizophrenia was associated with an average life expectancy of approximately 80–85% of that of the general population. Women with a diagnosis of schizophrenia were found to have a slightly better life expectancy than that of men, and as a whole, a diagnosis of schizophrenia was associated with a better life expectancy than substance abuse, personality disorder, heart attack and stroke. There is a high suicide rate associated with schizophrenia; a recent study showed that 30% of patients diagnosed with this condition had attempted suicide at least once during their lifetime. Another study suggested that 10% of persons with schizophrenia die by suicide. Other identified factors include smoking, poor diet, little exercise and the negative health effects of psychiatric drugs.
Violence: The relationship between violent acts and schizophrenia is a contentious topic. Current research indicates that the percentage of people with schizophrenia who commit violent acts is higher than the percentage of people without any disorder, but lower than is found for disorders such as alcoholism, and the difference is reduced or not found in same-neighbourhood comparisons when related factors are taken into account, notably sociodemographic variables and substance misuse. Studies have indicated that 5% to 10% of those charged with murder in Western countries have a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.
The occurrence of psychosis in schizophrenia has sometimes been linked to a higher risk of violent acts. Findings on the specific role of delusions or hallucinations have been inconsistent, but have focused on delusional jealousy, perception of threat and command hallucinations. It has been proposed that a certain type of individual with schizophrenia may be most likely to offend, characterized by a history of educational difficulties, low IQ, conduct disorder, early-onset substance misuse and offending prior to diagnosis.
A consistent finding is that individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are often the victims of violent crime—at least 14 times more often than they are perpetrators. Another consistent finding is a link to substance misuse, particularly alcohol, among the minority who commit violent acts. Violence by or against individuals with schizophrenia typically occurs in the context of complex social interactions within a family setting, and is also an issue in clinical services and in the wider community.
Screening and prevention: There are no reliable markers for the later development of schizophrenia although research is being conducted into how well a combination of genetic risk plus non-disabling psychosis-like experience predicts later diagnosis. People who fulfil the 'ultra high-risk mental state' criteria, that include a family history of schizophrenia plus the presence of transient or self-limiting psychotic experiences, have a 20–40% chance of being diagnosed with the condition after one year. The use of psychological treatments and medication has been found effective in reducing the chances of people who fulfill the 'high-risk' criteria from developing full-blown schizophrenia. However, the treatment of people who may never develop schizophrenia is controversial, in light of the side-effects of antipsychotic medication; particularly with respect to the potentially disfiguring tardive dyskinesia and the rare but potentially lethal neuroleptic malignant syndrome. The most widely used form of preventative health care for schizophrenia takes the form of public …