Experts say there is little correlation between mental health and mass beating.
President trump has promoted mental health as a key factor in mass shootings, including Thursday’s call for more mental hospitals. But experts say there is little correlation between a person’s mental illness and the likelihood of mass shooting.
Host MARY LOUISE KELLY:
The link between gun control, mental illness and gun violence has been the focus since the shooting. NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said this week at the CNN city hall.
Kelly: President trump has repeatedly pointed out that mental health is the root of the problem, including yesterday at the White House.
DONALD TRUMP: we’re going to be very focused on mental health, because it’s a case of mental health.
Kelly: President trump said that part of the focus would be to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. The President’s other proposal is to open more mental health institutions. But NPR’s allison kodak reports that doctors and mental health advocates say the link between mental health problems and gun crime is negligible.
ALISON KODJAK, wired: the President says the way to stop future school shootings is to identify people with severe mental illness and lock them in.
TRUMP: so we’re going to talk seriously about reopening mental health institutions.
KODJAK: he added that…
TRUMP: we used to have psychological institutions. I said that yesterday. We have a mental institution that makes you sick like this man – he’s a sick man – a lot of signs – you’ll take him to a mental hospital.
KODJAK: trouble Bethany Lilly is a lawyer at Bazelon’s center for mental health, because the United States locks people’s dark history in psychiatric hospitals.
BETHANY LILLY: we did that for most people in American history. Then, my organization and civil rights lawyers in the United States and journalists and investigators found how horrible the pit was.
KODJAK: patients get very little mental health care. They are often abused and neglected.
Lily: mental health institutions not only incarcerate what we call mental health disorders or mental health diagnoses today. They also imprison people who are merely acting outside the norms of society.
KODJAK: so in the 1970s and 1980s, many psychiatric hospitals were closed. The number of patients fell by more than 90 percent. The President is not entirely alone. He thinks this is too much. Health policy expert at the university of Pennsylvania, wrote in 2015, need more mental hospital, the psychiatric hospital is actually unable to secure the mental health of the people in the community to provide quality care. But lily worries that people will be locked up again, not because they pose a real threat, but simply because they carry a diagnosis that others fear.
Lily: if you talk to any practicing psychiatrist, they will tell you that the risk factor for gun violence is a young, angry, isolated social man. Sometimes in the effect constellation, you also have a psychopath.
KODJAK: the Parkland shooter in Florida is 19 and many are isolated. He was repeatedly referred to the police to deal with the threat of violence. Matthew Miller, a professor of epidemiology at Northeastern University, has published several papers on the risk factors for gun violence. He said the mass shooting and other people’s key factors were not mental illness. This is a gun.
Matthew miller: it’s not because we have higher rates of mental illness. It’s not because we have higher rates of violence. We didn’t.
Kodak: he says the U.S. mental health problem is about the same as in Europe. The same is true of violent crime.
MILLER: but we have a higher rate of violent death, because when people try to hurt people, they’re more likely to use guns.
Kodak: he says if politicians want to reduce mass shootings, they have to deal with guns. If they want to improve mental health care, they can do it.
MILLER: a person who doesn’t need a killer can say we should try to treat mental illness better and try to get people to get mental health care. This is an argument you can make on your merits.
KODJAK: NPR’s Alison KODJAK.
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