LETTER – The many factors that can cause people to become violent

(Image: Gerd Altmann,

Re: Editorial – We must stop assuming the mentally ill are more violent

This is probably one of my favorite Armchair Mayor Articles thus far and I mean no disrespect.

People who suffer from mental illnesses are 2.5 times more likely to become victims of violence themselves. I don’t think anyone is arguing that fact.

And he’s right, it is dangerous business to pin every act of violence on one being mentally ill. Why? Because Mental Health Awareness Month was founded in 1949 to bring awareness to the importance of mental health and understanding and to celebrate recoveries and treatment options… but yet, in 2011 when I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and a panic disorder, I was a senior in High School with 2 classes left to graduate and I dropped out. No one knew what a panic disorder was and certainly, no one wanted to know.

Now in 2021, anxiety is a lot more understood… no one flinches when I say “panic disorder” but they certainly used to.

Researchers define being violent/aggressive as
1) having the intent to harm and,
2) a learned behavior rather than an instinctual one, with of course many, many, many potential contributing factors such as poverty, trauma etc.

I will use myself as an example here since I just so happen to have the perfect mental illness for this. I am bipolar! Yay me.

I do know that in the early 2000s, the research did show that people who have mental illnesses are no more likely to engage in violence than the general public, but recently it’s been noted that people with bipolar disorder (and potentially schizophrenia as well – but I am speaking as someone with bipolar disorder) are actually more prone to becoming aggressive sometimes up to nearly 10% and, in my opinion, that makes sense to me.

Now I’m not saying it’s acceptable. I’m a non-violent person with a good professional job and I consider myself to be a contributing community member. But I am not perfect. Living with bipolar disorder is difficult and sometimes the way I view or process incidences seems to be way out of character for me.

But I promise you, losing your sense of reality as if you’re in the middle of the worst magic mushroom trip you could ever imagine, is enough to make anyone want to crawl into a hole and hide.

And if you’ve never been there, and I hope to any higher power that you never have will be, you will never understand how uncontrollable everything seems to be.

The Psychiatric Times did an article in December of 2014 that states, “Bipolar patients are prone to agitation that can result in impulsive aggression during manic and mixed episodes. However, depressed states can involve intense dysphoria with agitation and irritability, which can also increase the risk of violent behavior.

“Bipolar patients may have chronic impulsivity during euthymia, predisposing them to aggression. This is especially true with comorbid features of borderline personality disorder. In fact, particularly high levels of impulsivity and aggression in a bipolar patient could be a strong indicator of comorbidity with borderline personality disorder.”

I believe that this information is absolutely pertinent to me understanding my disadvantages, advantages, and my different mental states.

It is strange that we still jump straight to mental illness as a reasoning, despite the fact that there is a SUBSTANTIAL amount of research that proves that substance abuse and misuse is definitely more prevalent in violent acts than mental illness is.

To be clear, I do agree with you here. We must stop automatically assuming that every act of violence is due to a mental illness, but it does beg the question… Don’t you have to be just a little psychotic(clinically- not disrespectfully) to walk into a public library, stab 6 people and then yourself?


About Mel Rothenburger (8956 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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