OBJECTIVE. Data on persons known to have committed homicide during a 13-
year period were studied to determine factors associated with increased
risk of repeating homicide. METHODS. Between 1981 and 1993, a total of
1,649 homicides were committed in Finland. In 1,089 cases (66 percent), the
offenders received an exhaustive forensic psychiatric examination. Data
from reports of these examinations were analyzed to determine whether
mental disorder and other factors were associated with homicide recidivism.
RESULTS. Thirty-six homicide recidivists were identified. Twenty-four were
alcoholics, 23 had a personality disorder, in most cases combined with
alcoholism, four had schizophrenia, and two had major depression. Homicidal
behavior was ten times more likely in men who had committed a previous
homicide than in the general male population. Alcoholism increased the odds
ratio of additional homicidal behavior in male homicide offenders about 13
times, and schizophrenia increased the odds ratio more than 25 times.
During their first year after release from prison, male homicide offenders
were about 250 times more likely to commit homicide than members of the
general male population. CONCLUSIONS. The data suggest that mentally
abnormal offenders are overrepresented among homicide recidivists in
Finland. The risk of repeat homicide appears to be very high during the
first year after release from prison.