Experts: Don't Blame Mental Illness for Violent Acts

People who work with the mentally ill says there is absolutely no connection between mental illness and violent behavior like was seen this past weekend in El Paso and Dayton, and say quickly blaming violence on the mentally ill is a way to find a 'quick solution to a complicated problem,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Mark Stolje runs the San Antonio Clubhouse, a non profit which provides work, socialization, and meaningful activities for people with a wide range of mental illnesses. He cited a very in depth study of multiple murders in the United States dating back to 2004.

"And it showed that only 14% of the shooters could be identified with any type of diagnosable mental illness," he said.

Hollywood has long connected mental illness with violence, in movies like 'Friday the 13th,' where mass killers are portrayed as 'crazy.'

But Stolje says the reality is that, when you take a close look at mass killing dating back to Columbine, mental illness is not a factor.

"About three percent of people living with mental illness are prone to violence, and that is about the same as the general population."

He says in many ways, the mentally ill are less likely to be violent.

"People who live with mental illness are far more likely to be perpetrators of crime than victims of crime."

He says he studied the on line 'manifesto' posted by the El Paso killer, and he didn't see mental illness.

"I read an angry young man who probably had some racist tendancies, and I think that is what we can tie it to," he said.

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