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mental illness, suicide, violence

The link between mental illness and violence have led to individuals who have a mental illness being singled out or viewed with fear instead of compassion. Numerous studies and statistics show that people who are mentally ill are much more likely to commit suicide than they are to direct violence at someone else. In the USA alone in the year 2013 16,000 homicides were committed, and only 5% or around 800 of these homicides were committed by someone with a mental illness. In the same year 41,000 people commuted suicide in America, and around 90% of these individuals had at least one form of mental illness. These numbers show that someone who is mentally ill is more likely to harm themselves than they are to be violent with others.

The key to stopping violence and lowering the suicide rate is effective treatment for mental illness. Often individuals who have mental problems fall through the cracks. Treatment may be difficult to obtain, and mental illness can affect the thinking and decision making that the individual engages in. Many are calling for better mental health services and earlier intervention, and some are advocating for a return of policies from the past when the mentally ill were locked up indefinitely. Politicians rarely point out the suicide rate for mentally ill people while at the same time they are quick to blame mental illness when a mass shooting occurs and the perpetrator suffered from a mental condition. Until treatment for mental health is available to everyone who needs it there will be incidents of violence but these are much smaller than the number of people who take their own lives because they are mentally ill.