The relationship of mental illness to targeted contact behavior toward state government agencies and officials

Mario J Scalora, Jerome V. Baumgartner, Gary L. Plank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Research in the burgeoning field of threat assessment has illuminated the importance of mental illness factors when considering risk of targeted violence - particularly related to government agencies and officials. The authors analyzed 127 cases investigated by a state law enforcement agency regarding threatening or other contacts toward public officials or state agency employees prompting security intervention. Univariate and discriminant analysis indicated that mentally ill subjects were significantly more likely to engage in more contacts as well as to make specific demands during such contacts. Mentally ill subjects were also more likely to articulate help-seeking concerns and employ religious themes, as opposed to using insulting, degrading, or ominous language toward the target or issuing complaints regarding policy issues. Contrary to other research, the mentally ill subjects within this sample were not significantly more likely to engage in approach behavior, a threshold for higher risk of violence. Implications for threat assessment activity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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