Connecting Mental Illness and Mass Shooting Misses the Point, Experts Say - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Connecting Mental Illness and Mass Shooting Misses the Point, Experts Say

One expert says it's dangerous to assume that the mentally ill tend to commit these shootings

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    FBI investigators process evidence at the Rancho Tehama Elementary School in Rancho Tehama Reserve in Corning, Calif. on Tuesday, Nov.14, 2017.

    Kevin Neal’s family knew he was mentally ill, but they never thought he would kill five people and attack an elementary school in rural northern California. But Neal committed both those acts on Tuesday, and it has left his family asking some very difficult questions, NBC News reported.

    Sheridan Orr, Neal’s sister, said her brother made threats for nearly 20 years. Though they continued to pressure him to receive help for his mental health, he seemed unwilling to pursue treatment.

    Experts say it is difficult to know what to do in those situations, but Dr. James Fox, an expert on gun violence and author of “Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder,” said it's dangerous to assume that the mentally ill tend to commit these shootings.

    "There’s not really a correlation," said Fox, who maintains a database on mass shootings. "We like to think that these people are different from the rest of us. We want a simple explanation and if we just say they’re mentally ill, case closed. Because of how fearful dangerous and deadly their actions are, we really want to distance ourselves from it and relegate it to illness."