Mental Health Experts: Stop Blaming Mass Shootings On Mental Illness

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump attends a press conference on the census in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump, who had previously pushed to ... WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump attends a press conference on the census in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump, who had previously pushed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, announced that he would direct the Commerce Department to collect that data in other ways. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 5, 2019 3:40 p.m.

Leading organizations of psychiatrists and psychologists are pushing back against President Donald Trump and other Republicans’ go-to argument that claims mass shootings are caused by mental illness, not easy access to guns.

Trump claimed on Monday that “mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun” in his response to the mass shootings that in El Paso and Dayton that left more than 30 people dead this weekend.

But, without specifically mentioning Trump or other politicians, the American Psychiatric Association on Monday said that blaming mental illness is misguided.

In a Monday statement addressing the shootings, the organization of professional psychiatrists first noted that mental health programs are “severely underfunded in this country” to begin with (not to mention that Trump’s proposed cuts to the Affordable Care Act would further reduce access to care).

The group added: “It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent and far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of violence. Rhetoric that argues otherwise will further stigmatize and interfere with people accessing needed treatment.”

Another major mental health organization, the American Psychological Association, issued a similar statement on Sunday.

“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing,” the organization’s president said in a statement. “Research has shown that only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for, mental illness.”

Additionally, investigators have found no sign so far that either of the two suspected shooters were mentally ill. The motive of the alleged gunman responsible for the Dayton massacre is still unknown, but police are investigating the El Paso shooting as a possible hate crime after they found a hate-filled manifesto online that the shooter may have posted before the attack.

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