Mentally Ill People Aren’t Violent

By: Brenna Holycross

Everyday people are looked at differently because of the way media portrays them. One group of people are the mentally ill.

An ABC news poll taken October 15-18, 2015, recorded that sixty-three percent of respondents blamed a deficient mental health care system as the prime reason for America’s incessant gun massacres while twenty-three percent pointed to weak gun regulations. However, even though the majority of people believe this, it’s incorrect. Most mentally ill people are not violent.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only three to five percent of violent acts are even attributed to individuals with a mental illness.  Along with that, they also reported that people with a mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence.

The University of Washington stated that people with severe mental illness like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are two and a half times more likely to be attacked than the general population. Even WebMD states that people can have a mental illness by going through severe psychological trauma as a child—emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

One study that also supports that mentally ill people are not violent is the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study. Every ten weeks for one year, one thousand people were followed up after they left a psychiatric inpatient ward. These people were compared to average citizens in the same neighborhood. In result, no difference was shown in the amount of violence between the two groups. However, something else was shown during this study: people who were abusing substances were more violent than people who weren’t.

As humans, we have to find a way to solve everything and blame someone. This happens a lot when crimes are committed. However, acting like mentally ill people are the reason why there is violence is not going to solve anything. We need to find another reason why violent crimes are happening.

“When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes so they get stuck in people’s heads,” said researcher Jillian Peterson, PhD. “The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal, and not dangerous.”