In Violence and Mental Illness: Rethinking Risk Factors and Enhancing Public Safety (NYU Press, 2023), coauthors Eric Elbogen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, and Nico Verykoukis, a retired clinical social worker with 29 years of experience, counter that idea.

Through meta-analyses, new case studies, and empirical evidence, Elbogen and Verykoukis demonstrate that the causes of violent crime are actually far more complex. In an interview, Elbogen compares risk factors of violence to a jigsaw puzzle. “Usually people pick up one piece, a mental illness piece, and they say that’s the cause of violent acts, and that doesn’t make any sense,” Elbogen says. “That means you’re neglecting all these other pieces of the violence puzzle.”

The book explains that internal risk factors like being young, being male, anger, and substance abuse, as well as external risk factors such as poverty, absent or abusive parents, and an unsafe neighborhood, are also pieces in the puzzle. Other factors that may lead to this type of violence include being part of an organized hate group or gang, having access to weapons, and criminal thinking fueled by online hate communities.

Read the full article about mass shootings at Futurity.