“[Mentally ill patients] don’t die from drug overdoses or commit suicide—the kinds of things you might suspect in severe psychiatric illness,” said Sarah M. Hartz, the study’s lead author. “They die from heart disease and cancer, problems caused by chronic alcohol and tobacco use.”
The study looked at about 20,000 people, split down the middle between a healthy control population and people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorders, and/or major depression. Probably the most striking numbers have to do with smoking: over 75 percent of patients with major mental illness smoke cigarettes, compared to 33 percent in the general population.
Continuing on down the line, 50 percent of the mental illness pool smoked pot, compared to 18 percent in the general population, while 50 percent of the mental illness group used other illicit drugs, compared to 12 percent in the control group. Binge drinking: 30 percent vs. eight percent.