Comparing Rates of Mental Illness and Gun Violence in U.S., Australia, and U.K.

In 2021, 47,286 Americans died from gun violence – the highest number ever…

Author: Florida Atlantic University – Contact: fau.edu
Published: 2023/12/11
Peer Reviewed: Yeah – Post type: Case study
In this page: SummaryMain articleAbout the Author

Synopsis: Comparison between Australia and the United Kingdom indicates that mental illness is not a major contributor to increasing trends in gun violence deaths in the US. The United States is experiencing gun violence death rates more than 10 times higher than Australia and mortality rates more than 40 times higher than Australia. The United Kingdom Comparisons between Australia and the United Kingdom indicate that mental illness is not a major contributor to rising trends in gun violence deaths in the U.S. Researchers say attempts to combat the homicide-suicide epidemic by gun violence in the US without addressing guns is equivalent to trying to combat the epidemic of lung cancer deaths caused by smoking without addressing cigarettes.

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Armed violence

Firearm-related violence is violence committed with the use of a firearm. Firearm-related violence may or may not be considered criminal. Criminal violence includes homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, and suicide or attempted suicide, depending on the jurisdiction. Non-criminal violence includes accidental or unintentional injury and death. The United States has the 11th highest rate of gun violence in the world and a firearm homicide rate that is 25 times higher than the respective average rates of other high-income nations. The United States also has a total firearm death rate 50 to 100 times higher than many equally wealthy nations with strict gun control laws, such as Japan, the United Kingdom and South Korea. Armed violence is a daily scourge that threatens our most fundamental right: the right to life. Almost all studies have found a correlation between gun ownership and rates of firearm-related homicide and suicide.

Main summary

“Mental illness and gun violence in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom: clinical and public health challenges” – The American Journal of Medicine.

Considerable attention has been paid to mental illness as a leading cause of homicide in the United States. Serious mental illness affects more than 14 million Americans over the age of 18, and nearly 58 million people reported having a mental illness.

Researchers find similar rates of mental illness in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, but noticeably higher gun violence in the US.

In 2021, 47,286 Americans died from gun violence, the highest number ever recorded, of which 46 percent were homicides and 54 percent were suicides with firearms.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine and collaborators compared deaths from mental illness and gun violence in the US, Australia and the UK and their clinical and public health challenges. Their findings were published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Medicine.

The results show that:

  • In the United States, there are approximately 393 million guns owned among the general population of about 335 million people, or 1.2 guns per person.
  • In Australia, there are 3.5 million guns among a population of 26.4 million or about 0.13 guns per person, likely as a result of new gun laws passed in 2021.
  • In 2022, the United Kingdom launched a successful gun reform campaign, which included banning assault weapons and handguns.

The findings also reveal that in 2019, self-reports of mental illness were 15.7 percent in the US, 17.6 percent in Australia and 13.8 percent in the UK.

“The United States is experiencing gun violence death rates more than 10 times higher than Australia and death rates more than 40 times higher than the United Kingdom,” said Charles H. Hennekens, MD, Dr.PH., co-author of First Sir Richard. Doll Professor of Medicine and senior academic advisor at the FAU Schmidt College of Medicine.

“Comparisons between Australia and the UK indicate that mental illness is not a major contributor to rising trends in gun violence deaths in the US.”

Article continues below image.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Building – Image credit: Alex Dolce, Florida Atlantic University.

Continued…

Researchers suggest that high rates of gun ownership and access, rather than mental illness, are plausible but unproven explanations. Furthermore, they believe that if mental illness, which is similar in all three countries, played a major role in gun homicides, one would expect gun homicide rates to be comparable. In fact, gun homicide rates are very different between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

“People with serious mental illness have a markedly reduced life expectancy, between 15 and 20 percent, and die around age 50 compared to 70 years of age for the general population. They also commit suicide at a rate of approximately 10 times higher than its prevalence of about 1 percent in the general population, and many of these suicides are due to gun violence,” said Stuart Goldman, MD, co-author, professor of psychiatry and founding director emeritus of the program, residency in Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine.

“People with serious mental illness also have increased risks of committing lethal violence; however, these absolute risks are very low and result in modest contributions to social homicides. Active, untreated symptoms appear to be the strongest risk factor, as well as symptoms of substance abuse. or inadequate or retarded.”

The researchers also compared gun-related death rates in the U.S. by state, revealing stark differences:

  • Massachusetts (3.4 per 100,000)
  • Hawaii (4.0 per 100,000)
  • New Jersey (5.2 per 100,000)
  • New York (5.4 per 100,000)
  • Rhode Island (5.6 per 100,000).

Massachusetts has the lowest rates of gun ownership and gun violence deaths in the nation. In contrast, the highest rates of gun-related deaths are:

  • Mississippi (33.9 per 100,000)
  • Louisiana (29.1 per 100,000)
  • New Mexico (27.8 per 100,000)
  • Alabama (26.4 per 100,000)
  • Wyoming (26.1 per 100,000)

Furthermore, the difference in the rate of gun-related deaths between U.S. states is more than six times greater than the difference in mental illness.

Researchers believe that attempts to combat the epidemic of gun violence homicides and suicides in the United States without addressing guns are equivalent to trying to combat the epidemic of lung cancer deaths from smoking without addressing cigarettes.

About the research team

Co-authors of the study are Michelle Berglass, a medical student at the University of Florida; Dennis G. Maki, MD, Ovid O. Myer Professor of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Sarah K. Wood, MD, director of the Harvard Macy Institute, Harvard Medical School and former vice dean, professor and chair of Women’s and Children’s Health, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine.

Maki and Hennekens trained at Harvard after serving together for two years as lieutenant commanders in the US Public Health Service as epidemic intelligence service (EIS) officers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( They served under the direction of Dr. Alexander D. Langmuir, who created the epidemiology and EIS program at CDC, and Dr. Donald A. Henderson, head of the Viral Disease Surveillance Program at the CDC. CDC.

Resources that provide contextual information

Attribution/Source(s):

This peer-reviewed article related to our Psychological Disorders section was selected for publication by Disabled World editors because of its likely interest to our readers in the disability community. Although content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article “Comparison of rates of mental illness and gun violence in the US, Australia and the UK” It was originally written by Florida Atlantic University and published by Disabled-World.com on 12/11/2023. If you require further information or clarification, you may contact Florida Atlantic University at fau.edu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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Permanent link: Comparison of rates of mental illness and gun violence in the US, Australia and the UK

Cite this page (APA): Florida Atlantic University. (2023, December 11). Comparison of rates of mental illness and gun violence in the US, Australia and the UK. Disabled world. Retrieved December 13, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/psychological/gun-violence.php

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