Is There Really a Link Between Mental Illness and Mass Shootings?

Is There Really a Link Between Mental Illness and Mass Shootings?
    Does mental illness and gun violence actually have a scientific connection?
    After every major mass shooting in the U.S., there is always a discussion about whether
    or not the perpetrator's mental health was to blame.
    A recent study even showed that news media pairs mental illness with violence at a higher
    rate than it actually occurs.
    Oh, and then, there’s this guy.
    And yea, the shooter he’s talking about did have a history of mental illness, but
    there is still a lack of scientific evidence to support the idea that America’s gun problem
    is rooted in mental health.
    In fact, there is actually data that shows the opposite is true.
    Several epidemiological studies have shown that there is little to no correlation between
    mental illness and violence towards others.
    This includes people who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression.
    The National Institute of Mental Health carried out one of the first studies on the subject
    in 1990.
    They collected data from over 10,000 people across three major U.S. cities.
    The study accounted for things like socioeconomic status and substance abuse problems.
    The ultimate conclusion was that if we were to somehow eliminate the risk of people with
    mental illnesses carrying out violent crimes, the amount of violent crimes in the U.S. would
    only drop by 4%.
    A few years later, the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study followed more than 1,000
    psychiatric patients who had been discharged from medical care.
    The study discovered that patients who suffered only from a serious mental illness and had
    no substance abuse problems had the same risk in committing violent behavior as anyone else
    in their communities.
    And according to more recent national data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human
    Services, only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people who have serious mental
    Now, the rate of violent crimes for this population does goes up when you mix in substance abuse,
    but that’s true for the general population as well.
    On the flip side of this, people who suffer from serious mental illnesses are 10 times
    more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than members of the general population.
    They are also often the victims of self-inflicted violence.
    Over half of gun fatalities in the U.S. are from suicide.
    Experts believe that an emphasis on suicide would be a better policy approach in preventing
    gun violence, for which there is plenty of evidence and data, as opposed to focusing
    on mental illness’ connection to mass murders, for which there is little data.
    Lastly, finding a scientific connection between gun violence and anything can be difficult
    That’s because there was legislation passed in the late 1990s that essentially pulls funding
    away from any federal agency looking to study gun violence as a public health issue.
    I mean, the CDC gets funding to study rare diseases like cholera, diphtheria, polio,
    and rabies.
    Over the last 40 years those diseases have only killed around 2,000 people in the U.S.
    In that same time frame, 1.4 million Americans have died because of firearms.
    So let’s remember that, even when we see headlines like this.
    And have a president who says things like this.
    So, if science can’t solve the gun problem, what can it do?
    Like, how about cleaning the air with bicycles?
    Find out about it here.
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