Psychiatric Meds: Prescription for Murder?
by Rebecca Terrell
In a frenzied
cry for gun-control, the media is rife with details about the firearms
Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and six adults before turning
a handgun on himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown,
Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. But information about Lanza’s
medical history is scarce, feeding speculation that he may fit the
profile of school shooters under the influence of psychotherapeutic
every mass school shooting during the past 15 years, the shooter
has been on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs,” observed Lawrence
Hunter of the Social Security Institute. “Yet, federal and state
governments continue to ignore the connection between psychiatric
drugs and murderous violence, preferring instead to exploit these
tragedies in an oppressive and unconstitutional power grab to snatch
guns away from innocent, law-abiding people who are guaranteed by
the U.S. Constitution the right to own and bear arms to deter government
tyranny and to use firearms in self defense against any miscreant
who would do them harm.”
There is a
striking connection between school shootings and psychotherapeutic
drugs, also known as psychotropics. Consider these examples:
- Toby Sincino,
a 15-year-old who shot two teachers and himself in 1995 at his
South Carolina school, was taking the antidepressant Zoloft.
- Kip Kinkel,
an Oregon teen who murdered his parents and proceeded on a shooting
rampage at his high school in 1998, killed two and wounded 25
while in Prozac withdrawal.
- Shawn Cooper
fired two shotgun rounds in 1999 at his Idaho high school while
on an antidepressant.
- T.J. Solomon,
Jr. was 15 years old when he shot six classmates in Atlanta in
1999. He was taking Ritalin and was also being treated for depression.
- Eric Harris
was one of the assailants at Columbine High School in Colorado
in 1999. His autopsy revealed a therapeutic level of the antidepressant
Luvox in his system.
- Jason Hoffman
wounded five people with a shotgun at his California high school
in 2001 while on two antidepressant medications, Celexa and Effexor.
Weise, a student at Red Lake High School in Minnesota, killed
10 and wounded seven in 2005 while on Prozac.
- Matti Saari,
a college student in Finland, shot and killed 10 people before
committing suicide at his university in 2008. The Finnish Ministry
of Justice later reported he was taking an antidepressant and
an anti-anxiety medication.
- Steve Kazmierczak
killed six including himself at Northern Illinois University in
2008 while in withdrawal from the antidepressant Prozac.
- Tim Kretschmer
murdered 15 students and teachers at his secondary school in Germany
in 2009, and then committed suicide. Police reported Kretschmer
was taking prescriptions to treat depression.
A 2002 Fox
News interview with Cory Baadsgaard sheds some light on the possible
mental state of these criminals. The year before, at age 16, Baadsgaard
held a high-school class hostage at gunpoint in Washington state.
Fortunately, no one was killed or physically hurt during the incident.
The young man remembers the day in this way: “In the morning I didn’t
feel like going to school. I felt sick; didn’t feel like I could
get up very well. So I went back to bed. And the next thing I remember
I’m in juvie in the detention center where I used to live.” Baadsgaard
says he has no memory of the incident. He was tried as an adult
but spent only 14 months in prison because expert psychiatric testimony
convinced the jury his crime was the result of adverse reactions
the antidepressants Effexor and Paxil.
abundance of such evidence and a glut of scientific studies proving
real danger, “there has yet to be a federal investigation on the
link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence,”
according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
(CCHRI), a non-profit mental health watchdog group. CCHRI states
that government officials are well aware of the connection. “Between
2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S. FDA’s
MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence,”
including 300 homicides. The FDA estimates this total is less than
10 percent of the actual number of incidents since most go unreported.
has been little government action at all, with one exception. Due
to the “large body of scientific research establishing a connection
between violence and suicide and the use of psychotropic drugs,”
the New York State Senate introduced a bill in 2000 to “require
police to report to the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS),
certain crimes and suicides committed by persons using psychotropic
drugs.” The bill died in committee, and the issue remains unresolved.
response to the Sandy Hook tragedy and ignoring the obvious, Senator
Toni Nathaniel Harp and Representative Toni E. Walker, both Democrats
of the Connecticut General Assembly, introduced Bill 374, “requiring
behavioral health assessments for children,” mandating psychiatric
testing for public school students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 and
for homeschooled children at ages 12, 14, and 17. The assessments
would have to be reported to the State Board of Education, and there
is great likelihood that more children would end up on psychiatric
meds after such tests.
There is also
plenty of official agitation for gun control. Hunter suggests instead,
“It is pharmaceutical makers, not law-abiding gun owners or gun
manufacturers, who should be held to account for the series of ‘lone-wolf’
mass shootings that have occurred since the widespread use of psychiatric
on the Firing Line
are psychiatric drugs that form a common thread in school shootings.
There are five categories of antidepressants: selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
(SNRI), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), tricyclic antidepressants
(TCA), and atypical antidepressants. Despite the moniker, doctors
prescribe these medicines for much more than depression. They use
them to treat such ailments as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),
bipolar disorder, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, social anxiety
disorder (SAD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Other suspect medications,
such as Ritalin, Adderal, and Concerta, are sympathomimetic amines,
prescribed to treat ADHD.
act on the body’s nervous system altering its chemical communication
pathways to affect areas of the brain involved in judgment, abstract
reasoning, memory, emotions, and the fight-or-flight response
explains Michelle Morrison-Valfre, MHS, FNP in her 2005 book, Foundations
of Mental Health Care. The expected result is a calm mood
and clear thinking. However, in some cases unexpected results occur.
Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR), an authoritative
source of all FDA-approved drug labeling information, identifies
the potential hazardous side effects of psychotherapeutics, including
suicidal and homicidal ideation. Unfortunately, such effects are
not uncommon. In fact, when taking a particular medication poses
serious risks, the FDA requires drug manufacturers to highlight
the dangers in eye-catching boxes on pharmaceutical packaging. A
drug’s “black box warning” alerts consumers to the major hazards
they face when taking that medicine. Most prescriptions do not have
black box warnings only those that can cause extreme adverse
reactions compared to the potential benefit. Among psychotherapeutics’
black box warnings are:
risk of suicidal ideation in short-term studies in children and
adolescents with ADHD.” (Strattera, SNRI)
increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality)
in short-term studies in children, adolescents and young adults
with major depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders.”
appropriately and observe closely for clinical worsening, suicidality
or unusual changes in behavior for all patients who are started
on antidepressant therapy.” (Parnate, MAOI)
- “High potential
for abuse; avoid prolonged use. Misuse of amphetamine may cause
sudden death and serious cardiovascular events.” (Adderal, sympathomimetic
all depression and ADHD therapies contain FDA-mandated warnings
for caregivers to monitor for suicidal thinking, worsening of depression
symptoms, and unusual changes in behavior. Patients taking the tricyclic
Elavil are cautioned to “seek medical attention for symptoms of
mania, increasing psychosis or paranoia.” Literature warns parents
of children on Ritalin that “stimulants at usual doses can cause
treatment emergent psychotic or manic symptoms (hallucinations,
delusional thinking, mania) in children and adolescents without
prior history of psychotic illness.” (Emphasis added.) The
PDR also reports clinical trials have identified aggressive
behavior and hostility as notable side effects of ADHD medications.
of these drugs coincides disturbingly with a rise in the adolescent
suicide rate. Ritalin was introduced in 1956. Antidepressants made
their debut in the early 1960s, according to Morrison-Valfre, who
noted elsewhere in her text that statistics from the U.S. Bureau
of the Census reveal, “from 1960 to 2000 the rate of adolescent
suicide more than doubled.” This may be coincidental, but it is
unnerving in light of these drugs’ well-known adverse effects.
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© 2013 The New American