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Report: Mental illness plays small role in mass violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton earlier this month, some leaders are renewing calls for stricter gun laws and mental health reform.

However, a recent report from the National Council for Behavioral Health suggests mental illness plays a limited role in mass violence and linking the two adds to the stigma.

Licensed Psychotherapist, Michelle Wright, said she agreed with the findings.

“They talk about the people who commit these acts feel hopeless, victimized, indifferent to life to finances, relationships, job issues, etc. but we all feel these things. We all go through these things but we deal with them with coping skills,” Wright explained. “They may be negative coping skills like drugs or alcohol but we don’t generally go out and kill people. We have an innate sense to care about others and value life. So these people have something wrong with their mind but it’s not necessarily that they have a mental illness diagnosis.”

Wright said most people with diagnosed disorders are not violent.

“People with depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar or other personality disorders are not apt to go harm people, that’s not at all in their description or characterization of those things,” Wright said.

According to the report, only a small percentage of violent behavior is associated with serious mental illness.

The report found the majority of violent acts are caused by other factors including being young and male, being exposed to abuse and violence in the social environment and having a history of childhood abuse.


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