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Mental Disorder and Threats Made by Noninstitutionalized People With Weapons in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication

Casiano, Hygiea BSc, BSc (Med), MD*; Belik, Shay-Lee BSc (Hons)*†; Cox, Brian J. PhD*†; Waldman, Jeffrey C. MD, FRCPC*; Sareen, Jitender BSc, MD, FRCPC*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2008 - Volume 196 - Issue 6 - p 437-445
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181775a2a
Original Article

Controversy exists as to whether mental disorders are associated with a higher risk of violent behavior. Data from the nationally-representative National Comorbidity Survey Replication was examined. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine whether mood, anxiety, impulse control, and substance use disorders were associated with a higher rate of potentially violent behavior as assessed by threatening others with a gun or other weapon. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, an association was found between mood, anxiety, impulse control, and substance use disorders and the rate of threatening others. A significant association was found between threats made against others with a gun and both substance use disorders (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.27; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.62-3.20) and impulse control disorders (AOR 2.67; 95% CI 1.95–3.66). Threats made against others with any other type of weapon were significantly associated with any anxiety (AOR 1.76; 95% CI 1.34–2.31), substance (AOR 2.63; 95% CI 1.87–3.71), or impulse control disorder (AOR 2.49; 95% CI 1.96–3.18). Of the disorders studied, social phobia, specific phobia, and impulse control disorders seemed to have their onset before the act of threatening others with weapons. This finding was also true for those who had attempted suicide. Further research is needed to determine whether treatment of mental disorders decreases the risk of violence in this population.

Departments of *Psychiatry, and †Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award (to J.S.), a CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master's Award (to S.-L.B.), and the Canada Research Chairs Program (to B.C.).

Send reprint requests to Hygiea Casiano, BSc, BSc (Med), MD, PZ412-771 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 3N4. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.