The Villainization of Mental Illness and Video Games: From Being Concerned to becoming a Political Tool.


On August 5th, 2019 the President (and much of the other Republican Politicians such as Lt Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas) were quick on condemning the recent mass shootings that had happened on August 3rd, 2019 in El Paso TX, and then 13 hours later in Dayton Ohio. Instead of facing the realization of the hateful rhetoric that the President has been campaigning on and has been putting American, Immigrant citizens in danger they quickly turned to the oldest scapegoats; Blaming Mental Illness and Video Games for the recent shootings.

It has been two decades since Columbine has happened since then it has been either Video Games, Music, Television, etc. But there has been evidence that has shown that there isn’t any supported findings that it would remotely cause violence or even aggression. Unfortunately, the idea persists and plagues the mind of many politicians and Citizens. As for Mental Illness, this has been an ongoing issue for a long time for Experts and Lawmakers; some going to the great lengths of villainizing it but as far as linking Mental Illness and mass shootings go, you’re more than likely to see a person who has a history of risky or Dangerous Behavior committing a crime such a crime as Gun Violence. An associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health named Beth McGinty had this to say regarding the matter:

“Mental illness diagnosis is not an evidence-based risk factor for risk of violence toward other people — 50 percent of Americans meet criteria for a mental illness at some point in their lifetime, and most will not go on to commit violent crimes.”

Beth McQuinty, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Another study from the American Psychological Association shows that only about Three Percent of Violent Crimes, Rosie Phillips Davis, the Association’s President commented on the response to these recent mass shootings:

“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing, The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of, the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.”

Rosie Phillips Davis, American Psychological Association’s President

Additional Research that was published by the APA found that problems with self-esteem, perceived social rejection are common characteristics among people who commit mass shootings. Dan Flannery, The Director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention in Case Western University had an interview with NBC News regarding Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and trama.

“If you’re going to do screening, you need to screen for multiple things, and mental health is only one of them, You need to understand what’s going on in and consider stress points — what’s happening at work, in domestic life and their social media activity. If someone belongs to a lot of hate groups on social media, that’s a red flag.”

Dan Flandery, Director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention in Case Western University.

There are other factors regarding Gun Violence when it comes to Mental Illness, for example, having access to a gun coupled with personality traits is a pretty big risk factor in Gun Violence. Moving forward to the study that was published back in April’s Preventive Medicine, when it comes to a person who owns a gun there are 18 times more likely chances they will threaten someone. When it comes to personality traits, here is what to look for: Impulsivity and Excessive Anger; it is most likely with a person who has these traits and they display these outbursts of anger in a public setting or at work, could make a person who has access to a gun more likely to use it in a violent crime. Another Contributing factor to Violent Crimes and Gun Violence is problematic substance abuse, such as Alcohol, which is a major factor when it comes to influencing someone to use a gun to commit a violent crime according to a report from an organization of researchers, practitioners, and advocates who develop gun violence prevention policy recommendations based on existing research called the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy.

“The best predictor of future risky or violent behavior is past behavior, Having multiple DUIs or DWIs is one way of operationalizing that type of risk. If you want to screen for factors that might indicate people who are at high risk of committing gun violence, it’s these factors that suggest risk factors for future violence, not having a mental illness, Having a mental illness is not a dangerous behavior.”

Beth McQuinty, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health