Mental health and guns: Is there really a connection?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, only 1% of mass shootings are committed by someone with a serious mental illness.

GAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Many would like to see gun restriction laws focusing on people with mental illness. But mental health experts say it's a myth that mental illness leads to gun violence.

Here are the facts: According to a study done by the American Psychiatric Association only 1% of mass shootings are done by people with a serious mental illness. Unfortunately, many of those gain national attention leading most to believe only the mentally ill are responsible.

"So we're looking at that 1% as being low because everyone walking around with a mental health disorder isn't walking around wanting to kill people.", Christy Buck with the Mental Health Foundation along with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) do not support gun laws with a mental health provision. They believe a law that enforces mental health screening only increases the stigma of mental health, "The answer is let's get more education out there about identifying people who are struggling with a mental health disorder at the onset. Because also Val more people die by suicide than by homicide."

Another true statistic. The Brady Campaign for Gun Violence reports 76% percent of gun deaths are suicide.

So what to do??

"Having a loving engaging conversation when I'm noticing a change in someone's behavior for two weeks or longer and it could be following an incident in someone's life, the loss of a loved one, a traumatic experience, a host of things. I could be the one that saves someone's life." And Buck adds that takes courage, "And the thing is that if you notice changes in someone's behavior and you're concerned about that person, be bold and be brave to say I am going to take away all the guns in this house I am so worried about you."

Statistics support that if someone is in treatment for their mental health the chances of committing a violent crime are less than one percent.

If you'd like to get involved in helping to remove the stigma of mental illness you can sign up for the Mental Health Foundation's Mental Health First Aid program.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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