Experts urge an end to 'mental illness' rhetoric on mass killings: 'Shooting other people' is not a symptom

On Thursday, USA TODAY published an analysis urging a rethinking of how mental illness is discussed in connection with mass shootings, in light of the allegations that the shooter at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado suffered from psychological disturbances.

"'There's no psychotic illness whose symptom is shooting other people," Dr. Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, told Ryan Miller of USA Today.

Similarly, Angela Kimball, national director for advocacy and public policy at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told the publication: "People are searching for explanations for behavior they don't understand. It's easy to put a label like mental illness on behavior that frankly seems just beyond the pale."

The truth, however, is that the vast majority of mass shooters are not mentally ill, and that in fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.

"In June 2018, the FBI released a report studying active shootings from 2000 and 2013 and their perpetrators' behaviors before the attacks," wrote Miller. "The report found that in only a quarter of the cases could the agency verify that an active shooter had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Only three had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, the report said."

"According to the FBI report, the vast majority of active shootings can be tied to a motive, too, whether it's some action taken against the gunman in their personal life or at work or whether it's driven by hate or an extremist ideology," Miller continued.

You can read more here.