Violence Towards the Mentally Ill More Likely Than From the Mentally Ill

violence towards the mentally ill

Violence Towards the Mentally Ill

It seems with each new mass shooting the NRA uses the mentally ill as scapegoats. Human shields to deflect anger away from guns, gun owners and the NRA itself. Work done by researchers at North Carolina State University; RTI International; the University of California, Davis; Simon Fraser University; and Duke University tells a different story than the NRA would have you believe. New research shows that almost one-third of adults with mental illness are likely to be victims of violence within a six-month period, and that adults with mental illness who commit violence are most likely to do so in residential settings. Violence towards the mentally ill is more likely than violence perpetrated by those with mental illness.

“We hear about the link between violence and mental illness in the news, and we wanted to look not only at the notion that the mentally ill are a danger to others, but the possibility that they are also in danger,” says Dr. Sarah Desmarais, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work.

Study Results

The researchers found that 23.9 percent of the study participants had committed a violent act within the previous six months. The majority of those acts – 63.5 percent – were committed in residential settings, not in public. Only 2.6 percent of the violent acts were committed in school or workplace settings.

The researchers found that a significantly higher percentage of participants — 30.9 percent — had been victims of violence within that time period. And of those who said they were victimized, 43.7 percent said they’d been victimized on multiple occasions. “We also found that participants who had been victims of violence were 11 times more likely to commit violence,” Desmarais says.

We’ve known for many decades that children who come from violent homes are more likely to be violent themselves so this should come as no surprise. Violence begets violence. This highlights the need for more robust public health interventions that are focused on violence towards the mentally ill. It shouldn’t just be about preventing adults with mental illness from committing violent acts, it should also be about protecting those at risk of being victimized.

“For one thing, it’s the right thing to do,” Desmarais adds. “In addition, while correlation is not necessarily causation, preventing violence against the mentally ill may drive down instances of violence committed by the mentally ill.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

Here it is once again. Another study which shows a greater need to care for the mentally ill. We need more facilities, more outpatient clinics and more support for social workers and law enforcement agencies. How much longer will we tolerate outpatient facilities to be understaffed, prisons overcrowded and too many people dying in the streets before we say enough is enough? Oddly, it may be the NRA which gives the U.S. the kick in the ass it needs to take action to end the abhorrent treatment of those with mental illness. Disingenuous as I believe the NRA’s actions are, I hope they can help this country move towards better care for those who desperately need it.

Source: North Carolina State University

  2 comments for “Violence Towards the Mentally Ill More Likely Than From the Mentally Ill

  1. June 25, 2014 at 13:23

    Well written and informative article. Always a popular topic…I’ll be interested to see the comments you get!

    • Bradley
      June 25, 2014 at 14:05

      Me too, Rose. Thou, oddly enough, recently my readership has gone way up, while my comments have gone way down. Very strange.

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