Various types of mental illness are often linked to impulsive, aggressive behaviors that result in violence and criminal actions.
Is Rage Caused by Mental Illness?
Mental illness is often linked to violence and criminal behaviors by the public and the media, but behavioral health and research studies are much less conclusive. Although some violent behaviors are linked to anger disorders, PTSD, and borderline personality disorders, there is little evidence that rage is a mental health issue.
Only three to five percent of violent acts are linked to mental illness. The majority of violent behaviors that result in crimes including theft, battery, assault, and rape do not include gun violence or deadly actions. In cases of mass shootings, research shows that less than 15 percent of perpetrators are diagnosed as psychotic or mentally ill.
Crime statistics show that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of criminal acts rather than perpetrators. Research indicates that people who are mentally ill have higher rates of unemployment, physical and mental abuse, alcohol or drug dependency, and parents or family members who have criminal records.
Gun Violence and Mass Shootings
Although mental illness is not conclusively linked to violent actions, hostility and anger are major factors. Psychiatrists at Oxford University compared studies of impulsive, angry personalities to the general population and found that hostile, angry individuals have significant risks for violent tendencies. History shows that people with violent tendencies commonly have hostile or antisocial behaviors. Most violent tendencies start with school fights, verbal threats, and destruction of property, then progress to acts of violence with deadly force.
America’s most well-known mass shooters are angry, young men who regularly displayed hostile, antisocial behaviors before they carried out their deadly attacks. Many were previously identified as a potential threat by family members, friends, co-workers, or classmates. In most cases, anger, hostility, and antisocial behaviors stood out as significant risk factors.
In a recent study published in Preventive Medicine, the link between mental illness and gun violence is examined. The results indicate that gun violence is tied more to gun access than mental illness. The study shows that people with easy access to guns are 18 times more likely to threaten or assault someone with a gun. To reduce gun violence, federal law prohibits individuals with felony convictions from purchasing guns. In some states, even individuals with certain misdemeanor convictions are prohibited from purchasing firearms.