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Is firearm violence greater among the mentally ill?

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

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Credit: ©Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

New Rochelle, NY, June 9, 2016 - A new study finds that the majority of mental health professionals believe firearm safety issues are greater among mentally ill people, yet they do not screen their clients for firearms or provide firearm safety counseling. The public and politicians have unrealistic expectations for mental health professionals' ability to determine which patients are likely to be involved in firearm violence in the future, according to a study published in the journal Violence and Gender, from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Violence and Gender website until July 9, 2016.

In the article "Firearm Violence by the Mentally Ill: Mental Health Professionals' Perceptions and Practices," James Price, PhD, MPH, University of Toledo (OH) and Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, PhD, Ball State University (Muncie, IN), present a rigorous review of the scientific literature. The researchers conclude that mental health professionals need more training on firearms issues if they are to have a larger role in preventing firearm trauma by the mentally ill, with the greatest potential impact being on firearm suicides.

"Access to firearms is probably the most important variable in threat and dangerousness assessment," says Violence and Gender Editor-in-Chief Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Director, Forensic Sciences, George Mason University (Fairfax, VA), Forensic Behavioral Consultant, and Senior FBI Profiler/Criminal Investigative Analyst (ret.). "If a person poses and/or makes a specific threat of violence AND has access to firearms, it can exponentially increase their level of risk-from a threat assessment perspective."

"Screening of mental health patients for this information should be the first measure of threat assessment completed in a mental health intake situation," continues Dr. O'Toole. "If mental health professionals knew their patients' ability to have access to weapons, particularly patients they determine are at high risk for suicide, it would not only change their treatment plan, but very likely save lives. However, how realistic is it for these professionals, who too often must rely on self-reported information, to know if one of their patients has access to firearms, or if firearms are readily available in the home?"

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About the Journal

Violence and Gender is the only peer-reviewed journal focusing on the understanding, prediction, and prevention of acts of violence. Through research papers, roundtable discussions, case studies, and other original content, the Journal critically examines biological, genetic, behavioral, psychological, racial, ethnic, and cultural factors as they relate to the gender of perpetrators of violence. Led by Editor-in-Chief Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Director of the Forensic Sciences Program, George Mason University (Fairfax, VA), Forensic Behavioral Consultant, and Senior FBI Profiler/Criminal Investigative Analyst (ret.), Violence and Gender explores the difficult issues that are vital to threat assessment and prevention of the epidemic of violence. Violence and Gender is published quarterly online with open access options and in print, and is the official journal of The Avielle Foundation. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Violence and Gender website.

About the Publisher

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.

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