Murphy bill supporters try to tie mental illness to violence


Last week, 30 Congressional Representatives sent a letter to the chairs of the Energy and Commerce that will be look at the controversial proposal by Rep. Tim Murphy (HR 2646) urging its passage by citing that action is needed on the bill to prevent violence and linking mass murders and violence with serious mental health conditions (see below). This kind of unsubstantiated (see immediately below) smearing of people with mental health conditions should not be tolerated, whatever you think of Mr. Murphy’s legislation. If your legislator is listed below, please let them know how unacceptable these actions are to our community.  

 

·         Mental Illnesses and Violence: numerous studies of the past 15 years[1] have underscored that people with mental illnesses are no more violent than the general public except, like the public, when they use alcohol and drugs. People with mental illnesses are involved in 4% of violent crimes, with one in 70,000 committing murder to strangers.[2]

·         Mental Illnesses and Victimization: research demonstrates that people with mental illnesses are 11 times more likely to be victims of general violence and 5 times more likely to be murder victims[3]

·         Mental Illnesses and Mass Murder: “No clear relationship between psychiatric diagnosis and mass murder has been established.”[4] “Most of these killers are young men who are not floridly psychotic. They tend to be paranoid loners who hold a grudge and are full of rage.”

 

Despite these findings, between 48-75% of Americans believe that people with mental illnesses are violent and/or make up the majority of mass murderers[5]. These beliefs are often encouraged by defamatory media coverage; for example, 5 of 494 murders in New York City in 2007 were committed by people with mental illnesses[6] but those incidents were the ones that remained on tabloid front pages for days thereafter.

Before I turn to some analyses of New York’s Kendra’s Law, I’d like to quote one of its chief researchers Dr. Marvin Swartz of Duke University on the issue of violence: “People who understand what outpatient commitment is would never say this is a violence prevention strategy. Outpatient commitment isn’t going to prevent mass shootings.”[7]

[1] 1998 McArthur Study on “Violence by People Discharged From Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Facilities and by Others in the Same Neighborhoods” (Steadman et al); 2009 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (Ellenbogen et al);

2 2013 Presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, Duke University

3 2005 “Crime Victimization in Adults With Severe Mental Illness” (Teplin et al); 2013 Mental Disorders And Vulnerability To Homicidal Death (Crump et al)

4 2014 ‘Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown’ (Fox and Delateur); 2013 comments by Dr. Michael Stone, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia and ‘an expert on mass murderers.’

5 2011 Gallup Survey

6 http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/curbing-madness-article-1.295260; Wikepedia Timeline of New York City events, crimes and disasters#Murders_by_year

7 “AOT Cost-Effectiveness Study Stirs National Debate” Behavioral Healthcare August 22, 2013

————

The Honorable Fred Upton
Chairman
Energy and Commerce Committee
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr.
Ranking Member
Energy and Commerce Committee
2322A Rayburn House Office Building

Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Pallone,

Once again our nation has been struck by gun violence. When mass shooters strike there seems to always be a severe mental health issue associated with the criminal engaging in such horrific acts. In fact, research has found that there is a direct link between serious mental illness and violence. By making mental health treatment a priority in America, we can better address these mass shooting situations by preventing them beforehand.

In addition there are nearly 10 million Americans who are suffering from severe mental illness, but millions are going without treatment, all because our mental health system is in crisis. H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, seeks to solve this problem, and we strongly encourage the Committee to markup this important legislation.

50 percent of people will develop at least one mental health condition during their lifetime and half of those people will develop a mental health condition by age 14. Unfortunately, it takes about 10 years for people to get the treatment they need. The delay is caused by a shortage of psychiatric hospitals beds, a lack of outpatient treatment options and mental health professionals, and significant barriers facing families with a loved one who has a mental illness. In a developed nation like the United States, this wait time is unacceptable.

Research has proven that the right early treatment for mental health conditions can change lives. It can reduce high school dropout rates, hospitalization, incarceration, and unemployment. It is for this reason we encourage the Committee to consider a markup of H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

This bill seeks to solve the mental health crisis we are currently facing in our country. It is a critical step toward treating mental illnesses like we treat every other chronic disease. The legislation increases access to behavioral health care for children, improves the quality of care at community mental health centers; focuses federal spending on evidence-based programs and treatments that work; and opens up the door to communication between doctors and parents and legal guardians of those with mental illness. The bill drives additional research at the National Institute of Mental Health, and increases the number of psychiatric hospital beds that we desperately need.

It is only fair that we care for those suffering from mental illnesses. We hope the Committee understands the importance of addressing this issue, and we strongly encourage the markup of H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015.

Tom Reed

Charles Rangel

Kristi Noem

Barbara Comstock

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Chris Gibson

Marcy Kaptur

Charles Boustany, Jr. M.D.

Bob Dold

Edward R. Royce

Mike Coffman

Rodney Davis

Alcee Hastings

Corrine Brown

Earl Blumenauer

Scott Peters

Diane Black

Gregory Meeks

Elise Stefanik

Peter DeFazio

Lou Barletta

Barbara Lee

Ken Calvert

Bradley Bryce

Christopher Smith

David Rouzer

Beto O’Rourke

Ryan Costello

Martha McSally

David Reichert

http://mentalhealthcrisisday.com/hr2646-action-blast.html


[1] 1998 McArthur Study on “Violence by People Discharged From Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Facilities and by Others in the Same Neighborhoods” (Steadman et al); 2009 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (Ellenbogen et al);

[2] 2013 Presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, Duke University

[3] 2005 “Crime Victimization in Adults With Severe Mental Illness” (Teplin et al); 2013 Mental Disorders And Vulnerability To Homicidal Death (Crump et al)

[4] 2014 ‘Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown’ (Fox and Delateur); 2013 comments by Dr. Michael Stone, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia and ‘an expert on mass murderers.’

[5] 2011 Gallup Survey

[6] http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/curbing-madness-article-1.295260; Wikepedia Timeline of New York City events, crimes and disasters#Murders_by_year

[7] “AOT Cost-Effectiveness Study Stirs National Debate” Behavioral Healthcare August 22, 2013

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