As a psychiatrist, I have come to realize that there is a broad misunderstanding between the presence of a diagnosable mental illness and the lack of mental wellness manifested as rage, anger, vengefulness, agitation and other states of mind, which can escalate to violence.

The Violence Prevention Project, the largest study of mass shootings, has found that the majority of mass shooters exhibited identifiable signs of crisis leading up the to the event, but in only 10.5% were hallucinations and delusions a causal factor. Another concerning scenario can be expressions of suicidal intent by those who exhibit a change in their mental state. It is often family members or concerned others who are the first to become aware of these “red flag” signs of potential harm to self.

In Maine, 89% of deaths by firearms are suicides. We know from the study of suicide that it is often a transient state of mind and an impulsive act. However, an impulsive act with a firearm is nearly always fatal, leaving no opportunity for intervention or life-saving treatment.

Maine should take the strongest steps possible to protect Maine citizens with a genuine extreme risk protection order.

P. Lynn Ouellette

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