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Charlotte Talks: Politicians Blame Mental Illness For Mass Shootings. But Is It The Real Culprit?

Marco Verch/Flickr

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The connection between mental illness and gun violence. Mental health experts say it isn’t that simple because there is no clear link. Three local mental health professionals help us explore the topic.

After yet another tragic mass shooting, we all want to know – why? Politicians often cite mental illness as a leading factor. President Trump, addressing the recent shootings in Texas and Ohio, said "mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

We are quick to focus our attention on mental illness as a driving force behind these tragedies, but is that always the case? Mental health experts say the connection is not so simple and there is no clear link between mental illness and gun violence.

They say the majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent – and those with serious mental health issues are more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators.

Mental health advocates say the national rhetoric around these issues further stigmatizes mental illness and prevents people from seeking help or treatment. They are calling for more open conversation around mental health issues.

We continue that conversation and talk about the stigmas around mental illness with local mental health professionals.


Dr. Sherif Soliman, forensic psychiatrist at Atrium Health

Kathy Rogers, Executive Director, Mental Health America of the Central Carolinas, which focuses on advocacy and education around mental health issues

Justin Perry, owner and therapist at Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery, where he specializes in treating individuals who struggle with shame, insecurity and personal relationships.

Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.