Mental illness doesn’t predispose individuals to violence

Gun violence is a dangerous thing. It takes lives, and it causes others to lose their freedoms. It’s important to understand that violent crimes aren’t always caused by the mentally ill. If and when they are, there’s a real question as to how that should be handled.

Is it fair to treat someone with a real mental illness as if he or she is a monster or as if he or she intentionally hurt others? In moments when hallucinations or paranoia take over, those with true mental illnesses may not understand what they’re doing.

Still, it is wise to discuss the truth about mental illnesses. Not everyone who has a mental illness is going to be violent. Mental illnesses aren’t even the most common causes of gun violence in the United States.

The reality is that a small number of the mentally ill are predisposed to violence during certain high-risk periods. These might include the first episode of an illness or the time during an inpatient hospitalization. Most people who have mental illnesses aren’t violent at all; only around 3 to 5 percent have violent tendencies.

More importantly, the fact that violent crime rates are 12 times greater than the total population of mentally ill individuals in the United States means that mental illness cannot be the cause of all violent crimes in America.

The people most likely to cause violent crimes include those with a history of substance abuse and those with multiple DUIs or DWIs. Even then, it’s not everyone, and no one should be biased when taking a case to court.

Your attorney can help protect you against the biases that are likely if you struggle with mental illnesses. Violent crimes happen, but they’re not guaranteed just because of a mental health condition.

Source: American Mental Health Counselors Association, “Gun Violence and Mental Illness: Myths and Evidence-Based Facts,” Joel Miller, accessed March 13, 2018