Many South Carolina residents suffer from depression. Having this mood disorder doesn’t necessarily mean that sufferers will commit violent acts. Depression, along with other factors like stress, trauma, and substance abuse, can increase the risk of violent behavior.
Negative perceptions of depression and violence
Multiple studies have found that depression does not lead to violent offenses unless the perpetrator has symptoms of psychosis. However, at the same time, the stigma of mental illness leading to violence in the United States is still widespread. Coverage by the media, in print and broadcast, along with social media channels, tends to perpetuate that perception. Additionally, using such perceptions to influence public policy won’t necessarily improve public safety. Violence and mental illness do not necessarily have a causal relationship. Other risk factors show a stronger link with violent acts. Stronger correlations with violence include factors like:
- Suffering domestic violence
- Socioeconomic stress
- Substance abuse
- Exposure to violence in childhood
Stigma may also be a risk factor
The stigma attached to mental illness may prevent those afflicted with a disorder from seeking proper treatment. Available research indicates that untreated mental illness can significantly increase the risk of violent behavior that leads to crimes. Yet the risk remains small as only 3% to 5% of violent crimes are directly attributed to mental health conditions.
Can mental illness factor into your defense?
Defendants accused of a crime need a strong defense to prove their innocence. Circumstantial evidence, along with the stigma of mental illness, may lead to a wrongful conviction. Identifying the right option when mounting your defense can make the difference between conviction and exoneration.
Thoroughly assess your position and other mitigating factors. A conviction for a crime you didn’t commit due to incorrect perceptions by others can have far-reaching consequences.