A new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine suggests mental health and gun violence aren’t as closely related as people often think.
The study looked at how mental health symptoms and gun access impact two gun behaviors: if a person is likely to carry a gun outside their home and if they have threatened someone with a gun.
“What we found from our study was that none of the mental health symptoms related to gun violence behavior,” said Dr. Yu Lu, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the study’s lead author.
The researchers used various methods to collect data from over 1,000 participants on nine different indicators including: stress, anxiety, depression, hostility, PTSD, impulsivity, borderline personality disorder, a history of mental health treatment, and variables such as living situation, employment status or whether they were in school.
Only hostility predicted if a person had threatened someone with a gun.
“So it’s more anger issues related to that,” Lu said.
Nearly 40% of the 40,000 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2017 were homicides.
Dr. Lu said the public discourse connecting gun violence and mental health risks stigmatizing people with mental health issues. Some studies suggest just 3% to 5% of violent crimes are committed by someone with a mental illness.