Brain Museum

Mental illness and violence. Is there a link? Mental health professionals say there can be when it comes to untreated and serious mental illness. But it's less significant than you might think given the attention paid to mass killings around the country over the past several years.

FOX News Radio's Jessica Rosenthal talked to mental health researchers who broke down the numbers:

The man who shot people at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords event in Tucson was diagnosed as schizophrenic afterward. A judge found the Virginia Tech shooter mentally ill months prior to the shooting. The man who went on killing rampage at UC Santa Barbara said he was depressed. But when it comes to most mentally ill...

(Demorais) "They were much more likely to be victims of violence than they were to have perpetrated any acts."

Assistant Psychology Professor at North Carolina State University Sarah Demorais studied records of 5,000 mentally ill period over a one year period.

(Demorais) "Close to a quarter of our participants reported perpetrating a violent act within a prior six months period but a full third of our participants actually reported being victims of violence."

Psychiatry Professor Dr. Jeffrey Swanson at Duke has researched serious mental illness like schizophrenia and major depression.

(Dr. Swanson) "Only about 4% of the violence in our estimation is attributable to those kinds of psychiatric disorders."

Multiple studies from around the world show the seriously mentally ill are more prone to violence but really only if untreated and especially if abusing substances.

Jessica Rosenthal, FOX News Radio.