Psychiatrists have come forward to assert that certain psychiatric medications, such as those known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are almost certainly the chemical cause of a high number ofinstances of random violence and suicide in which SSRIs have been present.
The research challenges the pharmaceutical industry’s defense that the high correlation between random violence and the presence of these medications is due to the mental illness itself, not the drugs being prescribed for the illness. Other critics of the industry claim that drugs tend to be too aggressively marketed and over-prescribed.
The media has reported that the suspected shooter in the Sandy Hook multiple killings, Adam Lanza, was possibly on some form of psychiatric medication, perhaps related to a reported diagnosis of a form of autism, a developmental disorder that affects social and communication skills. Authorities have yet to make a statement on what, if any, psychiatric medications Lanza was on or had been on in the past. The SSRI with the brand nameProzac is sometimes prescribed for autism.
Answering the pharmaceutical industry’s defense, in testimony before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in February 2010, Dr. Peter Breggin, founder of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, told the committee that the causative links between violent incidents and the drugs in question had already been established by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The pharmaceutical industry has attempted to discredit case reports as evidence for causation,” Breggin told the committee. “However, case reports have led to most FDA changes in labels and to most withdrawals of psychiatric drugs from the market, and are a mainstay in the FDA for evaluating adverse drug reactions.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the SSRIs and other stimulating antidepressants cause suicidality and aggression in children and adults of all ages,” he added.
Breggin made the news in 1987 when a group calling itself the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) filed a complaint with Maryland’s Commission on Medical Discipline for comments he made on the Oprah Winfrey show. The New York Times and Mother Jonesmagazine subsequently found that NAMI received up to 66% of its funding from the pharmaceutical industry. In 2009, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) opened an investigation of NAMI, which confirmed the Times and Jones reports.
Breggin drew the wrath of the pharmaceutical industry when he commented: “Find the little part in you that loves yourself and see if you’re being loved by your therapist. See if that person cares for you, supports you. If that person offers a drug, don’t even say, ‘No, thank you.’ You can take the prescription and go. Don’t fight about it, don’t get in trouble, but go. Don’t take the drugs. And relate to people who care for you as a person.”
The Maryland Commission cleared Breggin and then thanked him for his contribution to mental health in Maryland.
Adding to the controversy over the links between SSRIs and violence and suicide, Dr. DavidHealy, a British psychiatrist and author of the book Pharmageddon, said in November 2012, “Violence and other potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription drugs are medicine’s best kept secret.”
The psychiatric profession and pharmaceutical industry have come under fire for the practice of giving doctors significant financial incentives for prescribing certain medications.
Dr. Gary G. Kohls, in an article entitled “Batman Shooter and His Psyche [sic] Drugs” published in Evergreene Digest, lists at least 40 cases of violent crimes or suicides committed by mostly young people whose medical history revealed the presence of psychiatric drugs, mostly SSRIs. A partial list of cases follows:
• Eric Harris, 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox), and Dylan Klebold, 18, killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.
• Jeff Weise, 16, had been prescribed 60 mg per day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota on March 21, 2005 before he shot himself. In the end, 10 were dead and 12 wounded.
• Cory Baadsgaard, 16, was on Paxil, which caused him to have hallucinations, when he took a rifle to Wahluke High School in Washington state and held 23 classmates hostage on April 15, 2001. He claims to have no memory of the event.
• On November 28, 2001, Christopher Pittman, 12, murdered both his grandparents while on Zoloft.
• On September 23, 1995, Jarred Viktor, 15, stabbed his grandmother 61 times after takingPaxil for five days.
• On May 21, 1998, Kip Kinkel, 15 (on Prozac and Ritalin), shot his parents while they slept, then went to school and opened fire, killing two classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
• On October 1, 1997, Luke Woodham, 16 and on Prozac, killed his mother and then went to Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, where he killed two students and wounded six others.
• On December 1, 1997, Michael Carneal, 14 and on Ritalin, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed and five others wounded.
• On March 24, 1998, Andrew Golden, 11 and on Ritalin, and Mitchell Johnson, 14 and onRitalin, went to Westside Middle School in Craighead County, Arkansas and shot 15 people, killing four students and one teacher, and wounding 10 others.
• On May 20, 1999, at Heritage High School in Conyers, Georgia, Thomas Solomon Jr., 15 and on Ritalin, opened fire on his classmates, wounding six students.
• On September 26, 1988, James Wilson, 19 and on various psychiatric drugs, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school in Breenwood, South Carolina and killed two young girls and wounded seven other children and two teachers.
• On March 7, 2001, Elizabeth Bush, 13 and on Paxil, shot a fellow student in the cafeteria atBishop Neumann Junior-Senior High School in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
• On March 22, 2001, Jason Hoffman, 18 and on Effexor and Celexa, opened fire on classmates and staff at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, California, injuring five people.
• On March 10, 1998, in Huntsville, Alabama, Jeff Franklin, 17 and on Prozac and Ritalin, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then brutally attacked his younger brothers and sister.
• On April 26, 1996, Kurt Danysh, 18 and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now in prison and writes letters trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
• On February 5, 2010, Hammad Memon, 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student at Discovery Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and other drugs for the medical conditions.
• On September 23, 2008, Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences in Western Finland, shot and killed nine students and a teacher, and wounded another student before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
• On February 14, 2008, Steven Kazmierczak, 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
• On November 7, 2007, Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, 18 and on antidepressants, killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School, before committing suicide.
• On October 10, 2007, Asa Coon, 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life at the SuccessTech alternative high school in Cleveland,
Ohio. Court records show Coon was on trazodone.
• On February 9, 2004, Jon Romano, 16 and on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at his teacher in Columbia High School in East Greenbush, New York.
Ralph Lopez is a journalist who lives in Cambridge, Mass. He has written for news and commentary websites such as “TruthOut,” “Alternet,” “Consortium News” and “Op-Ed News.”
Gun Violence Just One Symptom
By Jim Traficant
Guns, guns, guns. All the problems and issues of America have been set aside by the tragic shooting in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and rightfully so.
The outcry is to limit the firepower of guns. Even the National Rifle Association (NRA) was atfirst silent, seemingly on the defense. It seems that the NRA is now being scrutinized regarding their political donor list and the money they invest in certain politicians.
I find it interesting that most of those politicians who have eaten at the trough of the NRA are not only silent, but are also joining the mob that is now putting the NRA under the microscope. This, folks, describes real politics in America.
Here’s how it works: The politicians in Washington, D.C. wake up, walk to the window and look out to see in which direction the mob is marching. Then, they put on their trench coats and run out, fighting to get in front of the pack.
I have never received any political action funds from the NRA. I was an avid hunter and gun owner but was opposed by the NRA because I was against the sale of armor-piercing ammunition. I guess that was one of the NRA’s litmus tests.
Evidently, I failed the strict litmus test and was not worthy of NRA support. The truth is, I was one of the biggest supporters of gun rights and the Second Amendment, and I still am.
Guns are not the problem. Gun violence is but one of the symptoms depicting the sad state of affairs in our nation. The trouble is, no one is looking at the symptoms. Instead they are unable to treat the disease that just continues to grow.
Here are some of the underlying problems facing our country. Today, less than 50 percent of families have two parents. Many children are being raised by grandparents. Our national policies actually reward dependency, as well as subsidizing illegitimacy. Homes are without fathers, which eventually lead to children without guidance or supervision. Students do not learn in or attend school. High school dropout rates continue at a high level. Juvenile delinquency is accepted. Alcoholism, drugs and teen pregnancy are on the rise.
Murder is even tolerated. Don’t believe it? Think back to Richard Speck. He’s the monster who killed eight nurses in Illinois. He was sentenced to life in prison.While in prison, he made a sex movie and stated, “If people knew how much fun I was having they would [expletive deleted] their pants.” Speck should’ve been put to death. And he’s not the only one. How many mass murderers are in prison getting three square meals, healthcare anddental care, with no bills to pay? What’s the message that is being delivered? America tolerates murder, even mass murder—that’s the message.
Check out your TV.Watch those video game advertisements that show shooters killing scores of “bad guys.” Our nation promotes violence, then coddles it. As long as kids run the streets without parental guidance, America will continue to own the killing fields of our dangerous streets.
Concealed Carry in Schools Can Prevent Mass Murder
By Mark Anderson
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is back in the saddle, saying she will be pushing in the113th Congress the “assault weapons” ban, which was first enacted in 1994 and then expired in 2004. Note to Dianne: the criminal element will still obtain what it needs via theft and through the black market,which your prohibition would help create, enabling criminals to outshoot law-abiding citizens, whose firepower is reduced by this bill.
Sen. Feinstein’s office says she wants to stop “the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of more than 100 specifically named firearms as well as certain semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10rounds.” She also wants to ban the large-capacity ammunition magazines and drums “capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.”
This approach puts the citizenry at a distinct disadvantage against rogue government forces, instead of addressing the need to create a reasonable balance of power between citizens and police, who should partner together to protect the community, instead of being possible adversaries—which the bill encourages.
Those of Sen. Feinstein’s ilk have no problem with guns of the deadliest power and capacity being used to protect themselves and to enforce the edicts of the IRS, FBI, BATFE and other federal agencies. They also have no problem using these weapons to deliver deadly force abroad against the helpless, on the wings of the military. Only honest, average citizens are expected to beat their swords into plowshares, while several federal agencies buy millions of rounds of deadly hollow-point ammunition for reasons never clearly explained.
If the absence of guns ends violence, then why allow guns at the Pentagon, for airport security or anywhere else? Why not dissolve the military and federal goon squads? Why are schools singled out with a federal gun-free designation? Not allowing teachers, administrators and staff to be sufficiently trained and armed is itself a handmaiden to criminality, a form of criminal negligence.
“Assault weapons” the public can buy are just ordinary caliber firearms reconfigured to make them look more menacing than they are. The only difference is their capacity to hold multiple rounds in a detachable magazine. Regular citizens can only get such rifles that fire one round per trigger pull. Three-shot-burst and fully automatic weapons are reserved for the police and military.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), meanwhile, advises hiring even more police to guardschools. The big media treat the NRA as if it’s the only pro-gun organization on Earth, and all we get is the NRA’s lackluster proposal to send more uniformed police into schools that already resemble mini police states with RFID chips in student IDs and metal detectors and cameras everywhere.
Because today’s police are highly militarized in their tactics, equipment and mental outlook, neither Sen. Feinstein’s approach nor the NRA’s proposal will do.
Instead, let’s repeal the gun-free-schools law and allow licensed and trained law-abiding citizens to carry their concealed arms into formerly forbidden places. That’s what Michigan attempted to do, but the bill was vetoed by the governor. American citizens could back up a limited police force at schools and elsewhere.
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Listen to Mark’s weekly radio show and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.