While trying not to blame the political right or left, the focus has redirected the blame onto the mental ill, and advocates have since kept silent.
Sadly, the media is painting the mental ill as perpetrators of crimes, dangerous individuals, and as potential criminals ready to explode into murderous rage and commit mass murder—such as Jared Loughlin, who committed a horrible crime in Tucson, Arizona. However, research and studies show that there is “no correlation between increased violence risk and mental illness with the exception of those who are substance abusers.”
While a very small subset of mental disorders left untreated may increase the risk of violent behavior, it is important to note that having a psychiatric condition, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression, generally does not make a person any more violent than someone living without a mental illness.
In fact, people who are affected by mental disorders are more often the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence. In fairness, the public should be made aware of the vulnerability of those with mental illness and the risk they face of becoming crime victims themselves.
Although mentally ill people suffer most from these misrepresentations, offering and accepting mental illness as an explanation for violence does everyone a disservice. It seduces us into believing that all we need to do to keep safe is to keep away from people with mental illness. It further stigmatizes and isolates, and it makes them more susceptible to discrimination—increasing their vulnerability to becoming crime victims.
It is vile, hateful, and immoral.
A study by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) concludes that people are more likely to win the National Lottery jackpot than to die at the hand of a stranger with a mental illness. The study also says that “People who have drank too much or taken drugs are more likely to kill someone.”
“ … persons who are seriously mentally ill are far more likely to be the victims of violence than its initiators,” said Leon Eisenberg, M.D., professor emeritus of social medicine and health policy at Harvard Medical School.
People with mental illness are eight times more likely to be robbed, fifteen times more likely to be assaulted, and twenty-three times more likely to be raped. Theft of property from persons, rare in the general population (0.2 percent), happens to 21 percent of mentally ill persons. Even a minor theft increases their anxiety and worsens psychiatric symptoms
Mentally ill patients are six times more likely to be murdered than the general population, researchers have found. The mentally ill also have higher death rates from suicide and accidental causes.
According to a study by Northwestern University, in the US, nearly three million severely mentally ill people annually become victims. More than one fourth are violent crimes, eleven times higher than the general population. The study also indicates that people with substance abuse disorders are more likely to commit crimes than people with schizophrenia.