The Myth That Mental Illness Causes Mass Shootings

Perpetuating the myth that mental illness is the cause of mass shootings only serves to stigmatize the mentally ill even further. In addition, it distracts from the more difficult conversation that must be had over gun-control in America.

Still, it can be difficult to accept that only five percent of shooting deaths are attributable to diagnosable mental illness because it feels like someone would have to be ‘crazy’ in order to shoot 600 strangers at a country music concert from a pair of hotel windows. But even if you believe that someone must be mentally ill in order to perpetrate a mass shooting, the key question is in whether that mental illness is diagnosable prior to the violent act. Remember, Paddock had no history of mental illness and no criminal record. This was not a question of adequate access to mental healthcare either. Paddock was successful and had the means to access care if he chose to. Thus, even if the most comprehensive and strictest mental health reforms were put in place, Paddock would have been unaffected; 95 percent of shooters would be unaffected.

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