Gun Violence and Mental Illness

Front Cover
Liza H. Gold, Robert I. Simon
American Psychiatric Pub, Nov 17, 2015 - Medical - 480 pages

Perhaps never before has an objective, evidence-based review of the intersection between gun violence and mental illness been more sorely needed or more timely. Gun Violence and Mental Illness, written by a multidisciplinary roster of authors who are leaders in the fields of mental health, public health, and public policy, is a practical guide to the issues surrounding the relation between firearms deaths and mental illness. Tragic mass shootings that capture headlines reinforce the mistaken beliefs that people with mental illness are violent and responsible for much of the gun violence in the United States. This misconception stigmatizes individuals with mental illness and distracts us from the awareness that approximately 65% of all firearm deaths each year are suicides. This book is an apolitical exploration of the misperceptions and realities that attend gun violence and mental illness. The authors frame both pressing social issues as public health problems subject to a variety of interventions on individual and collective levels, including utilization of a novel perspective: evidence-based interventions focusing on assessments and indicators of dangerousness, with or without indications of mental illness.

Reader-friendly, well-structured, and accessible to professional and lay audiences, the book: Reviews the epidemiology of gun violence and its relationship to mental illness, exploring what we know about those who perpetrate mass shootings and school shootings. Examines the current legal provisions for prohibiting access to firearms for those with mental illness and whether these provisions and new mandated reporting interventions are effective or whether they reinforce negative stereotypes associated with mental illness. Discusses the issues raised in accessing mental health treatment in regard to diminished treatment resources, barriers to access, and involuntary commitment. Explores novel interventions for addressing these issues from a multilevel and multidisciplinary public health perspective that does not stigmatize people with mental illness. This includes reviews of suicide risk assessment; increasing treatment engagement; legal, social, and psychiatric means of restricting access to firearms when people are in crisis; and, when appropriate, restoration of firearm rights.

Mental health clinicians and trainees will especially appreciate the risk assessment strategies presented here, and mental health, public health, and public policy researchers will find Gun Violence and Mental Illness a thoughtful and thought-provoking volume that eschews sensationalism and embraces serious scholarship.


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About the author (2015)

Liza H. Gold, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Robert I. Simon, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

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