Yet another study — this one published in Psychiatric Services (in Advance) — has found that risk of gun violence is not linked to mental illnesses. Instead, once again, substance use and history of violence were found to be better predictors of violence.
The researchers from multiple institutions examined data from The MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study of 1,136 patients who had been discharged from acute civil inpatient facilities at three U.S. sites between 1992 and 1995.
Psychiatric News reported that, “Of the 951 persons available for at least one follow-up, 23 (2%) committed acts of violence with a gun. These 23 people tended to have admission diagnoses of major depression (61%), alcohol abuse (74%), or drug abuse (52%).”
“(T)he prior arrest rate of discharged patients who later committed gun violence was almost twice as high as the prior arrest rate of the overall sample (89% and 49%, respectively),” added Psychiatric News.
“When public perceptions and policies regarding mental illness are shaped by highly publicized but infrequent instances of gun violence toward strangers, they are unlikely to help people with mental illnesses or to improve public safety,” concluded the researchers.
Data Show Mental Illness Alone is Not a Risk for Gun Violence (Psychiatric News Alert, June 23, 2015)
Steadman, Henry J., John Monahan, Debra A. Pinals, Roumen Vesselinov, and Pamela Clark Robbins. “Gun Violence and Victimization of Strangers by Persons With a Mental Illness: Data From the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study.” Psychiatric Services, June 15, 2015, appi.ps.201400512. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201400512. (Full text)