Finnish pretrial male firesetters : mortality, suicidality, psychopathy and morbidity of schizophrenia

Annika Thomson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

Firesetters constitute a heterogeneous group, but some features have been found to be common, including frequent psychiatric (e.g. schizophrenia spectrum disorders) and substance use disorder comorbidities, and impulsivity. This study aimed to explore mortality rates and patterns among firesetters. Psychopathy is common in criminal and forensic settings and is associated with crimes and violence. The study investigated whether firesetters engaging in different types of crime (versatile firesetters) or repeating their fire-setting behavior show high rates of psychopathy. The study also analyzed whether fire-setting among young persons would predict onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The firesetters were a consecutive sample of 441 pretrial men, who underwent a forensic psychiatric examination during 1973-98 in Helsinki University Hospital. The control group consisted of date and place of birth- and gender-matched persons. The follow-up began when the examination was completed and ended when the person died, moved abroad, or at the latest on 31.12.2012. Dates and causes of deaths and information on treatment were obtained from national registers. In one part of the study concerning psychopathy, a subgroup of firesetters comprising 135 men was assessed with PCL-R. In another part of the study, a subgroup consisting of 137 firesetters aged 15-25 years was used. The study assessed how many had onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorder during follow-up. Nearly half of firesetters and a fifth of control subjects had died at the end of follow-up. The firesetters died significantly younger, at an average age of 53.2 years, than the controls, whose average age at death was 61.6 years. Alcohol-related deaths were more frequent among firesetters and they were 8 times more likely to end their lives by suicide compared to control subjects. Suicide attempts leading to hospital treatment were nearly 13 times more common among firesetters than among controls. The versatile firesetters scored significantly higher on the PCL-R total and factor scores than the exclusive firesetters. A schizophrenia spectrum disorder was diagnosed significantly more often among firesetters than control subjects. Fire-setting behavior was associated with a high mortality rate. Alcohol use contributed substantially to suicide attempts, completed suicides, and deaths overall. Antisocial pathways may be the motivator for versatile firesetters, showing significant traits of psychopathy. Fire-setting among youths should be taken seriously, as these individuals are prone to schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Firesetters constitute a high-risk suicidal behavior group, which must be addressed when planning treatment and release.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-951-51-2285-8
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-2286-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 3124 Neurology and psychiatry

Cite this

Thomson, Annika. / Finnish pretrial male firesetters : mortality, suicidality, psychopathy and morbidity of schizophrenia. Helsinki : University of Helsinki, 2016. 126 p.
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title = "Finnish pretrial male firesetters : mortality, suicidality, psychopathy and morbidity of schizophrenia",
abstract = "Firesetters constitute a heterogeneous group, but some features have been found to be common, including frequent psychiatric (e.g. schizophrenia spectrum disorders) and substance use disorder comorbidities, and impulsivity. This study aimed to explore mortality rates and patterns among firesetters. Psychopathy is common in criminal and forensic settings and is associated with crimes and violence. The study investigated whether firesetters engaging in different types of crime (versatile firesetters) or repeating their fire-setting behavior show high rates of psychopathy. The study also analyzed whether fire-setting among young persons would predict onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The firesetters were a consecutive sample of 441 pretrial men, who underwent a forensic psychiatric examination during 1973-98 in Helsinki University Hospital. The control group consisted of date and place of birth- and gender-matched persons. The follow-up began when the examination was completed and ended when the person died, moved abroad, or at the latest on 31.12.2012. Dates and causes of deaths and information on treatment were obtained from national registers. In one part of the study concerning psychopathy, a subgroup of firesetters comprising 135 men was assessed with PCL-R. In another part of the study, a subgroup consisting of 137 firesetters aged 15-25 years was used. The study assessed how many had onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorder during follow-up. Nearly half of firesetters and a fifth of control subjects had died at the end of follow-up. The firesetters died significantly younger, at an average age of 53.2 years, than the controls, whose average age at death was 61.6 years. Alcohol-related deaths were more frequent among firesetters and they were 8 times more likely to end their lives by suicide compared to control subjects. Suicide attempts leading to hospital treatment were nearly 13 times more common among firesetters than among controls. The versatile firesetters scored significantly higher on the PCL-R total and factor scores than the exclusive firesetters. A schizophrenia spectrum disorder was diagnosed significantly more often among firesetters than control subjects. Fire-setting behavior was associated with a high mortality rate. Alcohol use contributed substantially to suicide attempts, completed suicides, and deaths overall. Antisocial pathways may be the motivator for versatile firesetters, showing significant traits of psychopathy. Fire-setting among youths should be taken seriously, as these individuals are prone to schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Firesetters constitute a high-risk suicidal behavior group, which must be addressed when planning treatment and release.",
keywords = "Antisocial Personality Disorder, +psychology, Cause of Death, Commitment of Mentally Ill, Comorbidity, Criminals, Firesetting Behavior, +mortality, Forensic Psychiatry, Personality, Prisoners, Schizophrenia, Substance-Related Disorders, Suicide, Suicide, Attempted, Survival Analysis, 3124 Neurology and psychiatry",
author = "Annika Thomson",
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year = "2016",
language = "English",
isbn = "978-951-51-2285-8",
series = "Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis",
publisher = "University of Helsinki",
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Finnish pretrial male firesetters : mortality, suicidality, psychopathy and morbidity of schizophrenia. / Thomson, Annika.

Helsinki : University of Helsinki, 2016. 126 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

TY - THES

T1 - Finnish pretrial male firesetters : mortality, suicidality, psychopathy and morbidity of schizophrenia

AU - Thomson, Annika

N1 - M1 - 126 s. + liitteet Helsingin yliopisto Volume: Proceeding volume:

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Firesetters constitute a heterogeneous group, but some features have been found to be common, including frequent psychiatric (e.g. schizophrenia spectrum disorders) and substance use disorder comorbidities, and impulsivity. This study aimed to explore mortality rates and patterns among firesetters. Psychopathy is common in criminal and forensic settings and is associated with crimes and violence. The study investigated whether firesetters engaging in different types of crime (versatile firesetters) or repeating their fire-setting behavior show high rates of psychopathy. The study also analyzed whether fire-setting among young persons would predict onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The firesetters were a consecutive sample of 441 pretrial men, who underwent a forensic psychiatric examination during 1973-98 in Helsinki University Hospital. The control group consisted of date and place of birth- and gender-matched persons. The follow-up began when the examination was completed and ended when the person died, moved abroad, or at the latest on 31.12.2012. Dates and causes of deaths and information on treatment were obtained from national registers. In one part of the study concerning psychopathy, a subgroup of firesetters comprising 135 men was assessed with PCL-R. In another part of the study, a subgroup consisting of 137 firesetters aged 15-25 years was used. The study assessed how many had onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorder during follow-up. Nearly half of firesetters and a fifth of control subjects had died at the end of follow-up. The firesetters died significantly younger, at an average age of 53.2 years, than the controls, whose average age at death was 61.6 years. Alcohol-related deaths were more frequent among firesetters and they were 8 times more likely to end their lives by suicide compared to control subjects. Suicide attempts leading to hospital treatment were nearly 13 times more common among firesetters than among controls. The versatile firesetters scored significantly higher on the PCL-R total and factor scores than the exclusive firesetters. A schizophrenia spectrum disorder was diagnosed significantly more often among firesetters than control subjects. Fire-setting behavior was associated with a high mortality rate. Alcohol use contributed substantially to suicide attempts, completed suicides, and deaths overall. Antisocial pathways may be the motivator for versatile firesetters, showing significant traits of psychopathy. Fire-setting among youths should be taken seriously, as these individuals are prone to schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Firesetters constitute a high-risk suicidal behavior group, which must be addressed when planning treatment and release.

AB - Firesetters constitute a heterogeneous group, but some features have been found to be common, including frequent psychiatric (e.g. schizophrenia spectrum disorders) and substance use disorder comorbidities, and impulsivity. This study aimed to explore mortality rates and patterns among firesetters. Psychopathy is common in criminal and forensic settings and is associated with crimes and violence. The study investigated whether firesetters engaging in different types of crime (versatile firesetters) or repeating their fire-setting behavior show high rates of psychopathy. The study also analyzed whether fire-setting among young persons would predict onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The firesetters were a consecutive sample of 441 pretrial men, who underwent a forensic psychiatric examination during 1973-98 in Helsinki University Hospital. The control group consisted of date and place of birth- and gender-matched persons. The follow-up began when the examination was completed and ended when the person died, moved abroad, or at the latest on 31.12.2012. Dates and causes of deaths and information on treatment were obtained from national registers. In one part of the study concerning psychopathy, a subgroup of firesetters comprising 135 men was assessed with PCL-R. In another part of the study, a subgroup consisting of 137 firesetters aged 15-25 years was used. The study assessed how many had onset of schizophrenia spectrum disorder during follow-up. Nearly half of firesetters and a fifth of control subjects had died at the end of follow-up. The firesetters died significantly younger, at an average age of 53.2 years, than the controls, whose average age at death was 61.6 years. Alcohol-related deaths were more frequent among firesetters and they were 8 times more likely to end their lives by suicide compared to control subjects. Suicide attempts leading to hospital treatment were nearly 13 times more common among firesetters than among controls. The versatile firesetters scored significantly higher on the PCL-R total and factor scores than the exclusive firesetters. A schizophrenia spectrum disorder was diagnosed significantly more often among firesetters than control subjects. Fire-setting behavior was associated with a high mortality rate. Alcohol use contributed substantially to suicide attempts, completed suicides, and deaths overall. Antisocial pathways may be the motivator for versatile firesetters, showing significant traits of psychopathy. Fire-setting among youths should be taken seriously, as these individuals are prone to schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Firesetters constitute a high-risk suicidal behavior group, which must be addressed when planning treatment and release.

KW - Antisocial Personality Disorder

KW - +psychology

KW - Cause of Death

KW - Commitment of Mentally Ill

KW - Comorbidity

KW - Criminals

KW - Firesetting Behavior

KW - +mortality

KW - Forensic Psychiatry

KW - Personality

KW - Prisoners

KW - Schizophrenia

KW - Substance-Related Disorders

KW - Suicide

KW - Suicide, Attempted

KW - Survival Analysis

KW - 3124 Neurology and psychiatry

M3 - Doctoral Thesis

SN - 978-951-51-2285-8

T3 - Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis

PB - University of Helsinki

CY - Helsinki

ER -

Thomson A. Finnish pretrial male firesetters : mortality, suicidality, psychopathy and morbidity of schizophrenia. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, 2016. 126 p. (Dissertationes Scholae Doctoralis Ad Sanitatem Investigandam Universitatis Helsinkiensis; 47/2016).