Giving Compass' Take:

• Maggie Koerth-Baker argues that we must stop connecting mass shootings to mental illness to get to the real root of mass shootings. 

• How can funders helpt to drive a productive conversation about mass shootings? 

• Learn about the social consequences of mass gun violence

Nearly 47 million American adults — about 19 percent of us — deal with a mental illness of some sort. Serious mental illness, the kind that can keep people from being able to do normal life activities, is also pretty common: It affects 11 million American adults. Even with a specific, uncommon diagnosis like schizophrenia, you’re still talking about (at the low end of the estimates) some half a million Americans.

Almost none of us are mass shooters.

Potential mass shooters aren’t easy to spot, but the contradictions in our logic about them are:

  • The kinds of severe mental illnesses we’re so often afraid of don’t seem to be strongly associated with mass violence.
  • The serious mental illnesses that are loosely linked with violence are still a poor predictor of who will become violent.
  • The mental illnesses that seem to be common among people who commit mass violence aren’t good predictors of violence.
  • And we have no idea how people who commit mass violence differ from the general population — we only know what they have in common with each other.

You can see the problem. This is why experts say we shouldn’t be talking about mental illness as a cause of mass violence.

Read the full article about mental illness and mass shootings by Maggie Koerth-Baker at FiveThirtyEight.