People who've been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses are from three to ten times more likely to become victims of violent and non-violent crimes than members of the general population, according to a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry. More →
In Aeon, Joseph Pierre explores how research has dispelled many of the common beliefs about the causes of mass murders, such as "bad parenting, mental illness, guns, video games, the media, heavy metal music, or just plain evil." So what are we left with, he asks, except to look inward for the real roots? More →
When discussing voice hearing, news media most often link the phenomenon to "criminal behavior, violence, and suicidality," according to a study in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry. "The majority of articles examined contained no suggestion that [auditory verbal hallucinations] are possible in psychologically healthy individuals," concluded author and Felician College psychologist Ruvanee Vilhauer. More →
The non-profit Empowerment Council and Psychiatric Disabilities Anti-Violence Coalition based in Toronto, Canada have announced the launch of a study into prejudice, hatred and violence directed against people with mental health issues. As part of the study, they are seeking input from the public. More →
There are no psychosocial treatments or psychotherapeutic methods that are proven to effectively reduce thoughts and behaviors of self-harm in youth, according to a review of the scientific literature by a team of Harvard University psychologists publishing in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. More →
Even though the Obama administration ordered the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research into the causes of gun violence after the Newtown shooting, the organization has "fear" of proceeding, states an article in The Washington Post. The CDC and many other researchers are worried about the political consequences from the gun lobby, the article states, if they should find that the main problem is simply lack of gun control. More →
An "epidemic of violence against health care workers plagues hospitals" as "hospital administrations and the judicial system do little to prevent assaults against nurses and other caregivers by patients," reported Scientific American. Conversely, the same day, The Guardian reported "a hidden outbreak," as sexual violence by UK hospital staff against psychiatric patients "soars." More →
Interviews in io9 with neuroscientists James Giordano of Georgetown University Medical Center and Jonathan Moreno from the University of Pennsylvania supplement a discussion of the latest thinking about and developments of offensive and defensive tactical "neurosecurity" weapons. More →
In the New York Times' Op-Talk, Anna North interviews Jonathan Metzl about his recent study showing how little gun violence and mental illness are linked, and reflects on some of the potential dangers of society's obsession with nevertheless linking the two. More →
Writing in the Genetic Literacy Project, David Warmflash discusses a recent study that identified two genes "associated with violent crime." Even though people with those two genes "were 13 times more likely to have a history of repeated violent behavior," Warmflash notes that even the study's own authors cautioned people not to make too much of the finding. More →
Giving youth from high-violence schools minimum-wage summer jobs reduced their acts of violence by nearly half, and the effects lasted over the long term, according to a randomized controlled study published in Science. Adding cognitive behavioral therapy to the program made the effects neither better nor worse. More →
The links between gun violence, mass shootings and mental illness are very weak, argue two Vanderbilt University researchers in the American Journal of Public Health. "After synthesizing decades of research in psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and journalism, they argue that popular opinion about the links between mental illness and gun violence is often misguided, and, if extrapolated into policy change, even harmful to public health overall," reports Pacific Standard, in an article which includes an interview with one of the authors. More →
"A survey of school shootings in the United States revealed that only 17% of the perpetrators had a diagnosis of mental illness," reports Medscape. The information was presented by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine researchers at the American Public Health Association annual meeting. There were, however, other common, contributing factors that appeared in the majority of cases. More →
I’ve been arguing against calling this movement that I’m a part of a ‘peer’ movement for a long time. What has happened with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has helped me to crystallize that point. If we do not see what happens to some of us in the psychiatric system as connected to what happens to others because they are black or because they are transgender or because they love someone else of the same expressed gender (or because they live in poverty, etc. etc.), then I’m not sure any of us really, fully understands what it is we are trying to accomplish at all.
"A comprehensive examination of the medical history of Adam Lanza, who fatally shot 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., two years ago, has concluded that he was 'completely untreated in the years before the shooting' for various psychiatric and physical ailments," according to the New York Times. His school also failed to provide appropriate "social-emotional support" and other services, stated the report, while Lanza frequently used guns, exhibited an "atypical preoccupation with violence," and participated in an online "micro society of mass murder enthusiasts." More →
In The National Psychologist, forensic psychologist David Kirschner writes about his experiences evaluating young murderers, and discusses the negative role that he feels prior psychiatric treatment played in most of those adolescents' lives. More →
The popular smoking cessation drug Chantix is the medication that most frequently makes people feel suicidal or homicidal, according to figures gathered by the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) and published in their QuarterWatch. And five of the other top ten medications that most often make people report feeling suicidal or homicidal are common psychiatric medications. More →
Even though the White House describes it as the "most important tool" for stopping gun crime, the $650 million National Instant Criminal Background Check System "is failing to keep guns away from the dangerously mentally ill," according to a News21 investigation published by Philly.com. The main problem, explains News21, is that people diagnosed with mental illnesses do not often commit violent crimes, and mental health professionals and courts cannot accurately predict who might become violent. More →
Some police academy instructors in Canada still teach police that the use of force is "almost inevitable, and even recommended" when dealing with an "irrational" person, according to a new report from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The report was released at this week's Canadian police chiefs conference, writes Douglas Quan on Canada.com, and "also found that while officers are getting better trained about mental illness, many agencies are failing to include people with mental illness in the development and delivery of that training." More →
Blogging from the American Psychological Association annual convention, Lisa Bowen reports on a panel session entitled, "Mental Illness and Violence: Toward Research-Informed Policies and Practice." Forensic psychiatrist Eric Elbogan discussed one particular study, reports Bowen: "He noted findings of a national longitudinal survey of 34,653 people that looked at 16 risk factors for violence and found that the top five were age, sex, substance abuse, education and steady employment. Severe mental illness in the last 12 months was No. 14, while severe mental illness more than 12 months previously was No. 16." More →
Anne Skomorkowsky of the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry writes in Truthout about a recent case of a psychiatrist who shot a patient. Skomorkowsky then explores our society's misunderstandings of the relationships between mental illness and treatments, violence and guns. "Most violent crime is committed by sociopaths, not schizophrenics," writes Skomorkowsky. "Mental health treatment offers little to the antisocial patient. Nonetheless, such patients are frequently found in mental health settings because they have symptoms associated with severe mental illness, symptoms like irritability, paranoid ideation, suicidal and homicidal thoughts and poor impulse control." More →
A blog post from AbleChild raises questions about efforts in Connecticut to expand psychiatric screening and treatments for children and youth. "Since the tragic incident at Sandy Hook, the state has poured millions of dollars into increased mental health services and, sadly, none of that legislation was based on any investigative information that the shooter, Adam Lanza, lacked mental health services. In fact, based on the information that was made publicly available, Lanza was the poster child of mental health services and, perhaps, it is the services he received that may have contributed to his actions. Lawmakers, though, did not even consider this option." More →
Massachusetts State Representative Paul Heroux' Huffington Post blog concludes that "We need to realize that high-profile events are high-profile because they are unlikely. And trying to stop an unlikely event is very difficult if not impossible. Predicting a school shooting or when someone who has or had a mental illness is going to shoot someone is a bit like predicting where lightning is going to strike the ground. There are some generic indicators but little that can act as an actual alarm bell. There are things that can and should be done to reduce gun violence, but focusing on people with a mental illness is not one of them."
It seems almost every week now that we hear of a mass murder/shooting in the media. By now the pattern is too familiar to be as frightening as it once was. The response has also become reflexive: Guns should be made less available, especially to people with mental illnesses, and potentially dangerous people should be treated for their mental illnesses − involuntarily if necessary − so they can live safely in our community. Yet, nothing much changes, outraging the next set of victim’s families and communities.
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