Researchers have revealed that contrary to popular perception people with schizophrenia are not more violent than those without the condition.
A new study from Swedish Medical university Karolinska Institutet and the University of Oxford has found that schizophrenia only marginally increases the risk of committing violent crime.
And violent behaviour in individuals with schizophrenia is almost entirely attributable to concurrent substance abuse.
Researcher Niklas Langstrom compared the rate of violent crime in over 8,000 people diagnosed with schizophrenia between 1973 and 2006, and a control group of 80,000 people from the general population of Sweden.
The study showed that 28 per cent of those with schizophrenia and co-occurring substance abuse were convicted of violent crime, compared to eight per cent of those with schizophrenia and no substance abuse, and five per cent of the general population.
"Hence, the idea that people with schizophrenia are generally more violent than those without is not true," said Langstrom.
"People with schizophrenia but no co-occurring substance abuse are insignificantly more violent than people in general," he added.
Langstrom hopes that the results could help alleviate fears about mental illness.
"The stigmatisation of the mentally ill increases their alienation and makes people less likely to seek the help they need from mental health services", he said.
"Our results demonstrate once again the importance of preventing, discovering and treating substance misuse in efforts to reduce violent crime," he added.