Repost : Violence and Mental Illness

I originally posted this during my questions about mental illness series, but thought it’s a good reminder as we learn more about the current horrific school shooting.

I’ve briefly touched upon this topic in past posts, so please bear with me if some of this sounds familiar. First, let me reiterate a common thread throughout this blog, people who are mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence rather than the violent perpetrator; they are also more likely to hurt themselves than others. In fact, research continues to demonstrate that mental illness is low on the list of factors related to violence risk (Johnston, 2016). According to the American Journal of Public Health, fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were committed by someone who was diagnosed with a mental illness.

In contrast, a 2006 national survey found that 60% of Americans thought people with schizophrenia were likely to be violent toward someone else, and 32% thought the same of people with major depressive disorder. An individual’s genetic vulnerability or social environment (such as poverty, early exposure to violence, etc.) was found to play a much larger role in propensity for violence.

Key Sun Ph.D. made an interesting point about the false attribution of violence to Mental Illness. He stated that, “The first false assumption assumed that mental illness makes the perpetrator less responsible for the crime, because mental illness is rooted in biological defect and is beyond the control of the person. According to criminal law, however, the presence of a mental disorder does not sufficiently make the person less accountable for the offence.” This highlights a logical fallacy in general public opinion. It is believed that mental illness causes violence, but that mental illness is not an excuse for violence.

In summary, while the societal stigma against those with mental illness would have you believe those affected are more likely to be violent, research has shown this is simply not true.

One comment

  1. Trump administration never seems to mention anything about us being more likely to be a victim of violence against another. It’s on my commitment records that one time was for homicidal behavior. So far from the truth. The only one I might have been violent towards was myself. Mostly I was drunk in my own home and the cop thought I was “a threat to others”. I might add that this was in Florida under the baker act. It’s been 14 years since I lived there and I think their’s been some changes in it I was dx’d with bipolar in Florida and in the 5 years after that couldn’t even count how many times I was baker acted. I lived there 30 years but no one ever considered me a threat until the mental illness label. One ER dr (also a psychiatrist) wrote on a record that I was a “known bipolar”. Thought I might end up with my picture posted over that one. When dx’d my own husband immediately put trigger locks on his 3 guns. I had been sleeping for 20 years with 1 under my bed and it never occurred to me to use it against someone. Dx changed but I didn’t. I agree about these weapons. NRA is saying we need these weapons to hunt? Don’t recall any deer hunter ever using an assault weapon to shoot a deer. Personally I don’t even believe in hunting but accept that people do. Lumping gun control with mental illness is just flat out wrong. Trump is just causing more stigma. Seems like were loosing ground more and more.

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