Gun violence in the United States in 2017 and the role of mental illness

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Gun violence in the United States in 2017 and the role of mental illness

Category: Behavior, Homicide|Journal: Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression (full text)|Author: C Guss, M Tuason|Year: 2020

The year 2017 had the deadliest incidents of gun violence ever in U.S. history; defined in our study as incidents with 4 or more persons killed or injured: 384 shootings with 466 people killed and 1,912 injured (Gun Violence Archive, 2017. Our study focused on the role of mental illness and other possible causes of gun violence by analyzing a minimum of three media reports and online documents related to each incident in 2017. Results showed that (a) information about the shooter(s) is available in only 157 (40.9%) out of 384 cases; (b) mental illness was mentioned as a cause in only 17 (10.8%) of the cases in which information was available; (c) subclinical or mental health issues such as relational stress, revenge, job stress, substance use, and trauma were mentioned much more often than mental illness; and (d) there are different types of gun violence. Based on these findings, future research should look at the complex interaction of perpetrator, situation, and victim variables, as well as socio-demographic and psychosocial/mental health variables that may clarify the role of mental illness in the different kinds of gun violence, one of which is mass shootings. Mental illness was not a significant contributing factor in this study’s gun violence cases.

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