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Mentally Ill- Perpetrators? Or Victims?

Mentally Ill- Perpetrators? Or Victims?

Much has been written and said about gun violence perpetrated by the mentally ill.  But is that the case?  Are those the ones suffering from major depression? Deep anxiety?  Bipolar? Even Schizophrenia?

Let’s look at the facts- Mentally Ill as Perpetrators:

  • “Mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies.” — House Speaker Paul Ryan”

There’s a link, but it’s more limited than widely thought.

Mr. Ryan’s claim reflects a common misconception. According to various polls, roughly half of Americans either believe that failing to identify people with mental health problems is the primary cause of gun violence or that addressing mental health issues would be a major deterrent.

That conclusion is not shared by experts or widely accepted research. In an analysis of 235 mass killings, many of which were carried out with firearms, 22 percentof the perpetrators could be considered mentally ill.

Overall, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book“Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016.”  (By Linda Qiu and Justin Bank, “Checking Facts and Falsehoods About Gun Violence and Mental Illness After Parkland Shooting”, NY Times, Feb. 16, 2018)

Mentally Ill as Victims:

Seeing a psychiatrist or psychotherapist should not stigmatize you as a “marked” person.

Too often we view something on TV about a killer who suffered from bipolar disorder or depression as someone who “snapped”.   Such is nothing more than conjecture or plain old hype; citing, as fact, that they were being seen by a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.  For those of us who have the courage to seek help, we are being stigmatized. Not Fair!    

Take heart.  There is a difference between how people see us (no matter how misperceived, misinformed or uninformed) and who we really are.  We should not be penalized for seeking a better life because of the perceptions of those on the outside looking in.

More facts:

*Myth:  People with bipolar disorder or depression are dangerous.

*Fact:  Research shows that people with mental illness do not commit significantly more violent acts than people in the general population. However, people with mental illness are twice as likely to be victims of violence (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

*Bipolar Myth: Aside from taking medication and engaging in psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” a person with bipolar disorder has few options for controlling the condition.

*Fact: “Medication and therapy are important,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. (Excerpted from Kathleen Doheny, WebMD)

   “Seeking treatment is a smart choice that takes strength. Mood disorders are not flaws or weaknesses. Seeking treatment means a person has the courage to look for a way to feel better.(Matthew Hunt MA, “Mythology of Bipolar Disorder and Depression”, July 20, 2015,

This is where Counseling on Demand comes in.

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I am the Founder and CEO of Counseling On Demand with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with over 25 years of experience in helping Individuals, Couples, Adolescents, and Families who struggle with a wide variety of Life's Challenges. I thus have developed an Array of Effective Counseling Tools and Evidenced-Based Interventions to help you towards Your Road to Better Mental Health and Wellness. You are Never Alone...I look forward to meeting with you or your family member soon!