To Top

Do Mass Shooters Suffer From Mental Illness?

It’s pretty natural to assume that mass shooters are affected by mental illness. In order to fathom the motive behind such an action, people tend to attribute this trait of violence in them to a mental disorder. It’s actually beyond common understanding why someone would even think of doing such an inhumane thing. Common sense says that a person who behaves in such violent ways can be anything but normal. Do mass shooters need mental health treatment? Let’s find out how to deal with people who often behave violently.

Are All Mass Shooters Mentally Ill?

An individual suffering from anxiety, compulsions, and psychosis is generally considered to be mentally ill. Though a strange and an unusual behavior doesn’t always imply a mental disorder, your belief that such traits can be observed in many people makes the connection a bit too easy. In fact, whatever incomprehensible behavior you experience, violence, for instance, you tend to associate them to mental illness. You believe that only a sick individual can carry out a gruesome act like mass shooting and sickness here does not get linked with diabetes or a heart disease, but with the mind. Well, no one can deny the fact that some mass shooters are mentally sick. The word ‘some’ is used here, since not all mass shooters are affected by mental illness. Therefore, to generalize them without any substantial evidence is grossly wrong.

Are Violence And Mental Illness Co-Related?

Research proves that the correlation between violence and mental sickness is not as much as people assume and believe. Even in cases of individuals suffering from schizophrenia, connecting mass shootings (and other forms of violent behavior) and mental illness don’t have a significant connection with each other. The percentage of violent individuals among the non-mentally ill population is more than the percentage of violent people who are affected by a mental disorder. In most cases, only 5% of the crimes in the United States are committed by individuals who are mentally sick; the remaining 95% of violence and crimes are carried out by people who are not affected by any kind of mental disorder. Majority of mental illness is not linked to violence. As per surveys conducted throughout, mental disorders such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Asperger’s, anorexia, and bulimia nervosa can’t be related to a violent behavior or a criminal activity.

Factors That Incite Violence

Though you can’t predict a trait of violence in a mentally sick individual, violence can be associated with other important risk factors like past trauma (physical and mental abuse), stress owing to various environmental factors, domestic violence, substance abuse, family’s criminal history, incarceration, and possession of firearms. Evidence points out the fact that most mentally ill individuals who carry out a violent behavior or commit gruesome crimes are also inclined towards substance or drug abuse and such abuse can prove to be a more reliable indication of violence rather than being mentally sick. Even if a person is not reeling under the effect of a mental disorder, drug or substance abuse are predictive of violent traits. Scientific research unveils that the phenomenon of addiction is pretty much complicated than you usually perceive, and this needs to addressed in the first place.

Misconceptions Of Society

In order to treat and heal an addicted individual, several factors including social and cultural ones should be kept in mind. Thanks to society, mental illness has a certain stigma attached to it, and people are a bit inclined towards stereotyping mental illness in the wrong way. Such is also the case when a mental disorder is blamed for mass shootings. People suffering from a mental disorder dread the fact that they will automatically be labeled as dangerous which, in reality, is not the case. As a matter of fact, society is doing a lot of harm by its prejudice against such innocent people, stalling their recovery process and affecting their lifestyle in a way. And this implies that potentially dangerous individuals or individuals with violent traits would also not want to undergo therapy since they know that they would be tagged as mentally sick, too. Therefore, they would never get rid of any violent tendency present within them.

Owing to numerous misconceptions, society loves to tag criminals as mentally ill. People are somehow misguided and misinformed. Blaming mental sickness for any kind of violence and crimes will hardly prevent such incidents from occurring again. Instead of making mental illness a scapegoat, society should give an effort towards realizing the determinants and addressing them with utmost attention and care.

More in Mental Health