Expert speaks about the connection (or lack) of mental health issues and violence

Local News

More people, even teens, are turning to the use of a weapon to express their anger, hurt, and pain; but the public is quick to assume that these individuals have a mental illness. 

ABC Reports that though there may be red flags that predict violence, mental illness is not one of them.  Research shows that mental illness alone does not significantly increase the risk of violence.  

Bill Grove, the CEO of the Mental Health Association here in Erie says it’s a huge mistake to automatically assume violence is linked to mental illness.  Also saying it’s scapegoating a section of the population that doesn’t have a history of violence at all.

There are various types of symptoms of people who have mental health issues.  Grove says, though, there are people who have mental illnesses who can be dangerous, but there are also people in society who are not diagnosed with any kind of mental illness who can still be dangerous. 

“When you get into the violence aspect of things… nobody’s been able to come up with a set of symptoms that are necessarily predictive of violent behavior. The best thing we have in terms of violent behavior is, ‘have they perpetrated violent behavior before?’ So, when we’re talking about gun-related issues, we really need to not be thinking so much of mental illness as we need to be thinking about, ‘how do you determine a level of dangerousness?'”

Grove continues to say, “There’s no more occurrence of violence perpetrated with people with mental illnesses than there is in the general population, but it’s just an easy mark. Sometimes, we prefer to think that it has to be somebody who is ‘out of their mind’ to do these acts. It’s just not true. It’s a problem to society, it’s not a problem to a certain segment of society.”

More thoughts from Grove below:

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