The idea that mental illness alone is a leading cause of violence may not be valid.
Researchers say people with serious mental illness are no more violent than most people, unless there are other big risk factors involved.
They point to substance abuse and a history of violent acts, among other factors. They also include recent divorce or separation, recent unemployment, and criminal history by a parent.
The lead author of the study, Eric Elbogen of the University of North Carolina, says mental illness provides what he calls a "knee-jerk explanation" for events like the Virginia tech shootings. But he says it's "not a strong predictor of violence by itself."
The study of more than 34,000 U.S. adults appears in Archives of General Psychiatry.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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