(Right now, I’m focusing on my memoirist work that I’ll call, simply, “Pictures of Tommy” -- mostly about my psychotic brother and his legacy. It touches on my personal fears, too. . . .)
Even though Tommy started out with a violent psychotic episode and I wrote in “Ode to Northern,” a line about “Because you became sometimes violent,” it is a relief to know that, according to the NIMH, schizophrenics aren’t considered a violent bunch. . . In her book, Ben Behind His Voices, Randye Kaye quotes Christine Adamec from How to Live With a Mentally Ill Person:
Basic Nature Counts
“While many people with mental illness act in unusual and unpredictable ways, they do not often strike out at someone. One of the best indicators of whether an individual has the potential to be violent is past history. If a person has never been violent, he or she is very unlikely to be so in the future.”
And now, the NIMH weighs in:
Are people with schizophrenia violent?
People with schizophrenia are not usually violent. In fact, most violent crimes are not committed by people with schizophrenia.7 However, some symptoms are associated with violence, such as delusions of persecution. Substance abuse may also increase the chance a person will become violent.8 If a person with schizophrenia becomes violent, the violence is usually directed at family members and tends to take place at home.
The risk of violence among people with schizophrenia is small. But people with the illness attempt suicide much more often than others. About 10 percent (especially young adult males) die by suicide.9,10 It is hard to predict which people with schizophrenia are prone to suicide. If you know someone who talks about or attempts suicide, help him or her find professional help right away.
People with schizophrenia are not usually violent.