Skip to main content
construction release_alert
Scholars@Duke will be undergoing maintenance April 11-15. Some features may be unavailable during this time.
cancel
Journal cover image

Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Swanson, JW; McGinty, EE; Fazel, S; Mays, VM
Published in: Ann Epidemiol
May 2015

PURPOSE: This article describes epidemiologic evidence concerning risk of gun violence and suicide linked to psychiatric disorders, in contrast to media-fueled public perceptions of the dangerousness of mentally ill individuals, and evaluates effectiveness of policies and laws designed to prevent firearms injury and mortality associated with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders. METHODS: Research concerning public attitudes toward persons with mental illness is reviewed and juxtaposed with evidence from benchmark epidemiologic and clinical studies of violence and mental illness and of the accuracy of psychiatrists' risk assessments. Selected policies and laws designed to reduce gun violence in relation to mental illness are critically evaluated; evidence-based policy recommendations are presented. RESULTS: Media accounts of mass shootings by disturbed individuals galvanize public attention and reinforce popular belief that mental illness often results in violence. Epidemiologic studies show that the large majority of people with serious mental illnesses are never violent. However, mental illness is strongly associated with increased risk of suicide, which accounts for over half of US firearms-related fatalities. CONCLUSIONS: Policymaking at the interface of gun violence prevention and mental illness should be based on epidemiologic data concerning risk to improve the effectiveness, feasibility, and fairness of policy initiatives.

Duke Scholars

Altmetric Attention Stats
Dimensions Citation Stats

Published In

Ann Epidemiol

DOI

EISSN

1873-2585

Publication Date

May 2015

Volume

25

Issue

5

Start / End Page

366 / 376

Location

United States

Related Subject Headings

  • Violence
  • United States
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Suicide
  • Risk Assessment
  • Public Policy
  • Public Opinion
  • Policy Making
  • Mentally Ill Persons
  • Mental Disorders
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Swanson, J. W., McGinty, E. E., Fazel, S., & Mays, V. M. (2015). Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy. Ann Epidemiol, 25(5), 366–376. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004
Swanson, Jeffrey W., E Elizabeth McGinty, Seena Fazel, and Vickie M. Mays. “Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy.Ann Epidemiol 25, no. 5 (May 2015): 366–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004.
Swanson JW, McGinty EE, Fazel S, Mays VM. Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy. Ann Epidemiol. 2015 May;25(5):366–76.
Swanson, Jeffrey W., et al. “Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy.Ann Epidemiol, vol. 25, no. 5, May 2015, pp. 366–76. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004.
Swanson JW, McGinty EE, Fazel S, Mays VM. Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy. Ann Epidemiol. 2015 May;25(5):366–376.
Journal cover image

Published In

Ann Epidemiol

DOI

EISSN

1873-2585

Publication Date

May 2015

Volume

25

Issue

5

Start / End Page

366 / 376

Location

United States

Related Subject Headings

  • Violence
  • United States
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Suicide
  • Risk Assessment
  • Public Policy
  • Public Opinion
  • Policy Making
  • Mentally Ill Persons
  • Mental Disorders