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Media Links Mental Illness to Gun Violence; Scientific Study Disproves Myth

Update Date: Jun 09, 2016 06:06 AM EDT

The media reports regularly link people who commit gun violence to having a mental illness. However, Johns Hopkins researchers say that those with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and other conditions rarely commit acts of violence and almost have no access to guns at all.

Untrue Media Reports on Mental Illness Reinforce Negative Stereotypes

Media reports covering mass shootings and other forms of gun violence link perpetrators to having a mental illness. According to Johns Hopkins University, only a measly 5 percent of any form of violence in the US is directly associated with mental illness.

The findings published online in Health Affairs detailed how researchers looked at how media cover gun violence and other forms of violent social disruptions in society. The Johns Hopkins researchers found that while those with mental illness were arrested mainly for violent crimes than other groups of people, they found they are rarely arrested for gun violence and other gun-related crimes. Schizophrenia, drug abuse and those who suffered from traumatic life events were frequently mentioned in cases of mass shootings and violent crimes.

Perpetrators of Violence Not Necessarily Mentally Ill

Dr Emma McGinty of Johns Hopkins said in the press release that while murderers are not mentally stable, it isn't true that they have a "diagnosable illness." She says that these criminals may have issues of anger and frustration and these are a separate branch from mental illness. McGinty explains that these facts rarely get press coverage and as a result, negative stereotypes of mentally ill people increase, UPI noted.

Gun Control Contradiction

More than 60 percent who commit gun violence did not have a permit to won a gun because of their criminal history, not their mental illness. The Washington Post shared that only 3 percent of gun violent criminals were barred from securing a gun of their own because of their mental illness. Most of those who are legally allowed to purchase guns commit suicide (72%) and the rest go on to commit gun violence crimes.

Do you think that mentally ill people are unfairly painted as being gun violent or violent in general? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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