Threats to kill: a follow-up study

Warren, L. J., Mullen, P. E., Thomas, S. D. M., Ogloff, J. R. P. and Burgess, P. M. (2008) Threats to kill: a follow-up study. Psychological Medicine, 38 4: 599-605. doi:10.1017/S003329170700181X

Author Warren, L. J.
Mullen, P. E.
Thomas, S. D. M.
Ogloff, J. R. P.
Burgess, P. M.
Title Threats to kill: a follow-up study
Journal name Psychological Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0033-2917
Publication date 2008-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S003329170700181X
Open Access Status
Volume 38
Issue 4
Start page 599
End page 605
Total pages 7
Editor Eugene Paykel
Kenneth Kendler
Place of publication Cambridge, England
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Language eng
Subject C1
920209 Mental Health Services
111714 Mental Health
Formatted abstract
Background Mental health clinicians are frequently asked to assess the risks presented by patients making threats to kill, but there are almost no data to guide such an evaluation.

Method This data linkage study examined serious violence following making threats to kill and the potential role of mental disorder. A total of 613 individuals convicted of threats to kill had their prior contact with public mental health services established at the time of the index offence. The group's subsequent criminal convictions were established 10 years later using the police database. Death from suicidal or homicidal violence was also established.

Results Within 10 years, 44% of threateners were convicted of further violent offending, including 19 (3%) homicides. Those with histories of psychiatric contact (40%) had a higher rate (58%) of subsequent violence. The highest risks were in substance misusers, mentally disordered, young, and those without prior criminal convictions. Homicidal violence was most frequent among threateners with a schizophrenic illness. Sixteen threateners (2.6%) killed themselves, and three were murdered.

Conclusions In contrast to the claims in the literature that threats are not predictive of subsequent violence, this study revealed high rates of assault and even homicide following threats to kill. The mentally disordered were over-represented among threat offenders and among those at high risk of subsequent violence. The mentally disordered threateners at highest risk of violence were young, substance abusing, but not necessarily with prior convictions. Those who threaten others were also found to be at greater risk of killing themselves or being killed.
Keyword Crime
risk assessment
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 25 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 27 Mar 2009, 01:28:51 EST by Carmel Meir on behalf of School of Public Health