Take mental illness out of the Arizona debate


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

The shootings in Tucson once again have stirred debate over whether mental illness is linked to violence.

A landmark study less than two years ago by the U.S.-based National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – among 34,000 American adults – found that “the vast majority of murders in the United States have absolutely nothing to do with mental illness.”

Major depression and other forms of mental illness – such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders or schizophrenia – do not predict violence of the kind that unfolded in the shopping mall in Arizona.

Each of these conditions has psychological and physical effects. For example, depression is an independent risk factor for heart attack.

“People with serious mental illness, without other big risk factors, are no more violent than most other people,” lead author of the U.S. study, Dr. Eric Elbogen of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, says. “Mental illness is not a strong predictor of violence by itself.”

So what is? The study team produced a Top 10 list:

Mass murderers and serial killers are often found to have anti-social personalities – the fabled psychopath. But an anti-social personality, hatred, social alienation, narcissism or a lack of empathy are not mental illness. Aberrant and dangerous, sure. But not a clinically treatable illness.

Psychiatrists struggle to understand what makes a psychopath tick. The struggle goes on. These people seem to exist in an state beyond the reach of science. Some experts believe that anti-social behaviour has genetic factors.

An article published recently by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suggests psychopaths are born “to follow life strategies emphasizing deception, aggression, and indifference to the welfare of others.”

With that, the authors draw this critical distinction: Psychopaths do not display the “clinical deficits” associated with mental illness. These people are not mentally ill, they just are.

Violence and the word “psychotic” are often linked. Here again, fact and fiction collide. Psychosis is a mind state that can be triggered by schizophrenia but also by alcohol or drug use, brain tumours or prolonged isolation.

In a psychotic episode, the brain tricks itself into hearing voices when it is really thinking thoughts, or seeing things when it is only imagining them. Psychosis rarely triggers violence of the nature we saw in Tucson.

So here’s the point: People living with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than its perpetrator.

Except for one kind of violence – the inward kind.


The high prevalence rates of depression have made suicide a major public health problem that is present in many of the 32,000 suicides a year in the United States, and 4,000 in Canada. As a result of the depression epidemic, suicide, not homicide, is now the leading cause of violent death, according to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States.

As the story of violence in the Arizona sunshine plays out, we shouldn’t be surprised to find out that mental illness did not pull the trigger of that gun, the kid did.

Bill Wilkerson is co-founder of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health, and is mental health adviser to the RCMP.




Lets just take violence out of the debate and not have anything to debate? How about discus the issue of violence and mental illness.

The statistics are staggering. one in five Canadians, and at around the child birth rate, women have around 10 times the rate of mental illness than men but in family court, an allegation of a woman suffering mental illness is treated as heresy while any allegation about a man, a father must be true because that's the excuse, the justification, a judge is asked to make to give a mother, even a mentally ill mother custody.

If people have a mental health problem, seek help, take prescribed medication, the problems are generally under control.

When you have personality disorders, combined, the person simply feels better after taking medication and refuses to take it and the whole cycle starts again.

Others simply refuse to admit they have a problem, they blame everyone else and regularly turn on even the people closest to them, their closest supporters even spouses and sooner or later it ends up in court, family, criminal and or civil litigation.

Mentally ill people often suffer "hallucinations" in various forms, from hearing voices giving them ideas or instructions, to tasting or smelling objects that don't exist, to a normal person.

An adverse reaction to a relatively normal smell or a claim of smelling an odor that no one else can smell is often overlooked as a primary symptom, most people have no knowledge , training or experience to be able to spot the tell tale warning symptoms.

In extreme violence there are usually, lots of warnings at varying levels, but virtually no one takes any notice and if they do, their concerns are ignored because its politically incorrect to make an link between mental health problems and violence.

Its that kind of head in the sand attitude towards mental health that only makes the problem worse.

Only an idiot would suggest that there is no link between mental illness and violence.

Our jails are full of people who are evidence of the connection. Government needs to address the problem at the root cause, family dysfunction that starts in family court with a dead beat judge giving custody to a mentally ill violent woman that creates a dead beat dad who can never see his kids again.

Real crime, it starts in family court with judges who are not screened for mental health and a judiciary riddled with psychopathic personalities who leave trails of endless destruction.



And Bill Wilkerson is a mental health adviser to the RCMP?

No wonder police choose to shoot the mentally ill or those suffering temporary delusions and or hallucinations.

Bill Wilkerson's article begs the question as to why he should not be terminated. His article is riddled with evidence that shows he has not got a clue and for such an individual to be "an adviser to the RCMP" defies belief.

Bill Wilkerson does however show all the signs and symptoms of being a Republican Pen, a conservative mouthpiece that has as its mantra a refusal to deal with anything that requires intelligence education, science or logical reasoning.

Thanks to all the other posters who providing such informative posts.



It is most unlikely that "As the story of violence in the Arizona sunshine plays out, we shouldn’t be surprised to find out that mental illness did not pull the trigger of that gun, the kid did."

American courts don't like to hear that an accused has or had a mental illness and its for that reason, that another more politically correct finding will be found as the reason why the kid pulled the trigger.

The evidence says otherwise, all the witnesses including even minimum wage sales people who refused to sell him ammunition noticed after apparently seeing his scary facial expressions.