Many U.S. Mass Shooters Had Untreated Mental Illness: Study | Health News

Written by Robert Breidt, HealthDay reporter

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TUESDAY, June 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A new study finds that many mass shooters in America had an untreated mental illness when they committed their crime.

“Without losing sight of the larger perspective that most violent people are not mentally ill, and most mentally ill are not violent, our message is that mental health providers, lawyers, and the public should be aware that some untreated patients pose a problem,” said researchers led by Dr. Ira Glick of the College of Medicine. Stanford University:

Glick’s team studied 35 mass shootings that occurred in the United States between 1982 and 2019 that involved surviving shooters and were brought to trial.

Analysis of various sources of medical evidence on the perpetrators of the mass shootings showed that 28 people developed mental illness. 18 had schizophrenia and 10 had other diagnoses including bipolar disorder, delusional disorder, personality disorders, and substance-related disorders.

Of the 28 shooters with mental illness, none had been treated or received other treatment for their disorders prior to their crimes, according to the study, recently published in Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Glick and colleagues also examined 20 mass shootings who died at the crime scene and found that eight had schizophrenia, seven had other mental health diagnoses, and five had unknown diagnoses. None of them were receiving appropriate medications.

Investigators noted that despite the high frequency of mass shootings in the United States, there is almost no medical research on the nature and incidence of mental illness among the people who commit these crimes.

“The psychological disorders seen in the perpetrators of the mass shootings are serious brain diseases — requiring proper diagnosis and treatment such as heart disease or any other medical condition,” the authors noted in a Stanford University press release.

They added, “We need to reduce the stigma associated with these diseases to enable patients to receive appropriate and adequate psychiatric medications and other treatments. By talking to patients and other important people, we have the opportunity to save lives.”

The American Public Health Association has more on gun violence.

Source: Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, press release, 9 June 2021

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