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The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings

Posted by Hornswoggle 
The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 05:48PM
Yesterday, Thom Hartmann had Dr. Peter Breggin, author of the book "Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal" on as a guest. It turns out that many of these mass shooters are or have been on SSRI drugs, which often cause psychosis.

Besides the over-abundance of guns in the US, over-prescribing SSRI drugs might be the main culprit in these mass killings. I think we're going to be hearing more about this connection.

Top Ten Spree Killers That Were Taking Psychiatric Drugs

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have a long history of inciting violence. Here’s a list of killers with connections to psychiatric drug use:

10. Erik Harris – Columbine Shooting: Along with Dylan Klebold, Harris killed 13 and wounded 23 before killing themselves at their Littleton, CO highschool in 1999. Harris was on Zoloff and Luvox. Klebold’s medical records have never been made public.

9. Jeff Weise – Red Lake Shooting: Weise shot his grandfather and a friend before taking a gun to his Minnesota high school. His 2005 rampage killed 9 and wounded 12 before turning the gun on himself. Weise was 16, but was prescribed an adult dosage of Prozak.

8. Kip Kinkel – Oregon School Shooting: In 1998 the 15-year old shot his parents while the slept. He then went to his school in Springfield, OR and killed 2 classmates, injuring another 22. Kinkle was on both Ritalin and Prozak.

7. Michael Carneal – Kentucky School Shooting: In 1997 this 14-year old opened fire on students at a prayer meeting in West Paducah, KY, killing two, wounding 5. Carneal was on Ritalin.

6. Andrew Golden and Richard Mitchell Johnson – Arkansas Massacre: Responsible for a 1998 middle-school shooting near Jonesboro, AR that killed four students, one teacher, and wounded 10 others. Both of the boys were taking Ritalin.

5. Bufford O. Furrow Jr. – Jewish School Shooting: Opened fire on a Los Angeles Jewsish Community Center in 1999. Five children were wounded. Later in the day, Furrow killed a mail carrier. Furrow was under court order to take Prozac.

4. Steven Kazmierczak – Northern Illinois University Shooting: Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium in 2008. Prior to the shooting he had been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

3. James Holmes – Movie Theater Shooting: Shot and killed twelve people and wounded another 70 in an Aurora, CO movie theater in 2013. Holmes was being treated for depression and was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam and the antidepressant sertraline, the generic version of the antidepressant Zoloft.

2. Aaron Alexis – Navy Yard Shooting: The Washington DC Navy Yard shooting took the lives of 12 people and wounded 3 more in 2013. Alexis was under the influence of the antidepressant Trazodone.

1. Cho Seung-Hui – VA Tech Shooting: Killed 32 and wounded 17 before committing suicide on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. Seung-Hui was being treated for depression and had at various times in his life been prescribed Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozak. The New York Times reported that he took a pill just prior to the shooting.

Honorable Mention:

Adam Lanza – Sandy Hook Shooting: Killed his mother, then shot and killed 26 at an elementary school in Newton, CT in 2012. Lanza was diagnosed with asperger Syndrome and OCD. He was at one point on the antidepressant Celexa. The secrecy around him and his medical records keeps us from knowing if he was on any medication at the time of the shooting.

Jared Lee Laughner – Gabrielle Giffords Shooting: Killed 6 and wounded 13 others including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a shopping center in Tuscon, AZ in 2011. Laughner had a long history of drug abuse and depression. It has been reported that he was being treated for depression and may have been taking a prescription medication, but like Lanza, there is secrecy in his medical history.

The old saying that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” should be changed to “guns don’t kill people; prescription drugs kill people.” 100,000 people die every year from prescription medications and that doesn’t include the thousands of suicides and murders attributed to antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

Before we go infringing upon the 2nd Amendment rights of honest people, maybe we should take a look at the drug-fueled insanity behind these terrible massacres.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 06:54PM
Very interesting information - thanks. I would also be interested in knowing if any of these people or their families have government and or military connections. There was a story going around after Columbine that Harris' father was involved in some experimental drug program in PA while in the military.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 07:14PM
You're welcome. winking smiley I'm sure that some did have military connections. I haven't looked into that yet.

We'll probably be able to add Chris Harper-Mercer to that list after more info is released.

Oregon: Another Mass Shooting, Another Psychiatric Drug? 35 School Shootings/Mass Stabbings Tied to Psychiatric Drugs

Law enforcement officials identified 26-year old, Chris Harper Mercer, as the gunman who, yesterday, killed 10 people and wounded seven others at Umpqua Community College in southwestern Oregon. It appears Mercer is another in a long list of school shooters who have a history of mental health services and, more likely than not, had been prescribed psychiatric drugs.

Like so many of the recent perpetrators of mass violence, Mercer’s mental health history is well documented having, according to the Los Angeles Times, graduated from the Switzer Learning Center in Torrance, Ca., which serves students from 3rd grade to 22 years of age who have moderate to severe learning disabilities, emotional issues, attention problems and behavioral disorders. One former neighbor told the press, “she (Mercer’s mother) said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues.” The only question that remains unanswered is what psychiatric diagnosis had Mercer been labeled with and what was his psychiatric drug “treatment” regimen?

It is equally important to note that this mass attack occurred within a couple of weeks of the mainstream press, such as the LA Times and Reuters, exposing the link between antidepressants and violence. The recently released research reveals that 15 to 24 year olds taking antidepressants were nearly 50% more likely to be convicted of a violent crime such as homicide, assault, arson, robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault offenses when taking antidepressants than when they were not.

Given that at least 35 school shootings and/or school associated acts of violence (which includes guns, knives, and swords) with 169 wounded and 79 killed have been committed by students and others taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, consideration of this connection can no longer be ignored.


Rest at [www.cchrint.org]
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 07:31PM
You know what's going to be REALLY funny? When this information bubbles up to the general public and the GOP realizes their "it's not guns - it's mental health" dodge backfires on their other constituents - Big Pharma. Indy predicts they quickly reverse course and start blaming it on "liberalism" like everything else that goes wrong in this country.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 07:58PM
Before we get too overheated about a possible correlation between mass killings and prescription drugs, maybe we should first weigh the total number of people for whom they're prescribed against the number of mass killers who have taken them. IOW, what is the proportion of prescription drug takers to mass murderers? My guess is that only a tiny fraction -- a VERY tiny fraction -- of people who take or have taken these drugs turn out to be mass murderers.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:01PM
True, but we know drugging kids into submission is not solving their mental health problems either.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:08PM
Why is it apparently so easy for people who have been prescribed psychiatric drugs to arm themselves to the teeth? Isn't this the real problem that needs addressing? I would think that would be the route to go rather than to ban medication than may be beneficial for millions just because a handful of people who were using those drugs committed murder.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:17PM
It's also a very small percentage of gun owners who are murdering people.

Doctors often push SSRIs onto their patients. Happened to me back in the early 90s. I happened to mention in passing that I'd been a little depressed, and he immediately suggested Prozac. When I refused, he said, "You sure? I can write you a prescription right now." I've known several others who've encountered this, too.

The problem is WAY too many guns, WAY to lax restrictions, and WAY too much prescribing of SSRI drugs.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/07/2015 08:31PM by Hornswoggle.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:30PM
Newtown Shootings: A Caution About Violence and SSRIs ( Dec 20, 2012 )

SSRIs rank high in the top ten drugs that cause violence

...In fact, SSRI’s are the leading drugs in a recent list compiled of the Top Ten Drugs that cause violent behavior.

It’s been well known that adolescents and young people have an increased risk of suicide when they begin to take SSRIs. But what we may forget is that suicide is an impulsive behavior that is turned against oneself. But impulses, particularly violent ones, can be turned against others.

An accompanying effect of SSRI’s is the dulling of feelings (link is external) that cause depression—and one of the main feelings in this line is empathy. If empathy is dulled and violent impulses increase when young people are on SSRI’s, then certainly that is a recipe for causing harm to others.

It’s not that SSRI’s are not an important part of a mental-health practitioner’s arsenal against mental illness—they are. But it is important to understand that they are not panaceas and may even contribute to more violence.

Rest at [www.psychologytoday.com]
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:36PM
True, but gun ownership AFAIK is not helping nearly as many people deal with their psychological problems as psychiatric drugs do.

Hornswoggle wrote: The problem is WAY too many guns, WAY to lax restrictions, and for the mass killings SSRI drugs.

Based on the evidence you have, that is a ridiculous statement. Where's the evidence that shows most mass murderers were prescribed SSRIs? Where's the evidence that the mass murderers who were prescribed SSRIs were actually taking their medication?

And even if they were taking the drugs, it could just as easily have been the case that the prescribed drugs were not having the intended effect upon the patient rather than, as you assume, that the effect led to mass murder.

I for one need much more evidence than you've provided (and, I'll bet, than you have) before I'm ready to say SSRIs are a significant factor in mass murder.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:41PM
Perhaps you need to get off your SSRIs, too, Dick.

Where's the evidence that the mass murderers who were prescribed SSRIs were actually taking their medication? - Dick

My lead post. Violent behavior can also happen during withdrawal from SSRIs.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:45PM
My rule is question every drug out there. Back in the 70s they were prescribing depressants to virtually everyone who had any sort of "depression". They claimed to "help" but really all they did was make people relax or put them to sleep altogether. That's not treating a problem - that's putting it out of sight. From what I've read about Prozac and the other drugs that have been mentioned the idea is basically the same... "Kids acting up? Juice them up with Ritalin or Prozac and they aren't a 'problem' anymore".

Then there is the other side of the coin - different drugs affect people differently. I once got hold of some tranquilizers in college and did them at a party. The next day my roommate commented that he had never seen me that animated before. The drugs had virtually the opposite effect they have on most people... the reason for which doctors prescribe them - to tranquilize.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 08:57PM
I took Prozac for about a year in the early aughts. It seemed to have no effect at all on me, but I gave it a year just to see if it would do any good. I've since just accepted that I'll always be a little depressed like I always have been. No big deal.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 09:26PM
Perhaps you need to take your medication before you post, Hornswoggle. It can't hurt. winking smiley

About 1 in 6 adult American males take at least one psychiatric drug. About 1 in 4 adult American females do. Yet I notice that all the names listed above are male. What gives?

You've got 10 names listed above with no proof that the psychiatric drug they may or many not have been prescribed actually effected them in an adverse way. You have no proof that those people were actually even taking the drug that they may or may not have been prescribed. You name 10 people, out of some 50 million people in the US who use psychiatric drugs, and make an at best shaky connection between their rumored drug use and mass murder. Maybe you should expand your inquiry to include all gun violence in America and not just mass murders?

OTOH, we know that some psychiatric drugs benefit many people greatly. Studies attest to this fact. I'll wait on the studies that show properly prescribed and taken psychiatric drugs play a major role in mass murder before I support any legislation aimed at restricting their prescription by doctors.

Personally, I think all the mental illness/ drug/ violent entertainment media issues that are brought up by some (almost always by conservatives, BTW) are thinly disguised ploys aimed at taking the focus off the most significant cause of gun violence in our culture: the proliferation and easy procurement of firearms. If it make you feel any better, I don't believe this about you. I think you're just an unwitting dupe in all this. smiling smiley
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 09:28PM
Hornswoggle wrote: I took Prozac for about a year in the early aughts.

Did you see flying saucers before taking Prozac?
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 10:52PM
I think all of us (except Whatsy) believe less guns would help, Dick. My question - where did you get the "1 in 6" and "1 in 4" numbers? I find that very hard to believe unless they are really streeeeeeeeeeeeeetching the definition of a "psychiatric drug".
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 07, 2015 11:06PM
The premise of the opening post of this thread reminds me of the old saw "marijuana is a gateway drug". That is that most heroin users have smoked marijuana. While that statement is likely true, it's not correct that most marijuana users graduate to heroin.

As for people being prescribed SSRI drugs, they obviously are people with some sort of diagnosed mental disorder; so sure that population is more apt to do weird and possibly violent things than the general population. Secondly how many of the killers named in the OP were off their meds?



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Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 01:02AM
SSRI usage has been linked to greatly exacerbating depression so this shouldn't be too surprising.

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Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 11:39AM
If that's true, then why do so many psychiatrists (the vast majority of them?) prescribe them to treat depression?

"Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They can ease symptoms of moderate to severe depression, are relatively safe and generally cause fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants do."

[www.mayoclinic.org]
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 04:59PM
The drugs are the easy way, and we lovethe easy way. Unfortunately, mass shooting and use of these drugs have a direct correlation on a graph. These mental conditions have been around for centuries prehaps, we are causing the problem rather than letting little Jonny be a rowdy kid.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 05:04PM


This isn't just a US thing regarding these drugs.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 05:55PM
I don't understand the need of some people to get in your face over a simple disagreement. In this case, it's a disagreement on a subject where neither person is an expert.

Why can't we just have a discussion?

It certainly isn't far-fetched to draw a link between the use of SSRI drugs and violence. There have been plenty of studies on this.

Here's an article from the L.A. Times:

Rx for violence? Crime risk rises for young people on antidepressants, study says (9/15/15)

Researchers have identified a troubling side effect of a widely prescribed class of antidepressants -- they may make some patients more likely to commit violent crimes.

Data from Sweden show that young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 who had filled prescriptions for the drugs were more likely to be convicted of a homicide, assault, robbery, arson, kidnapping, sexual offense or other violent crime when they were taking the medications than when they weren’t. The researchers found no link between antidepressant use and criminal activity for older patients.

The findings, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, build on other evidence that the antidepressants – known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs – work differently in the brains of adolescents and adults. For instance, several studies have shown that the drugs actually boost the risk of suicidal thoughts in children, teens and young adults, but not in older adults.

Rest at [www.latimes.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/2015 06:01PM by Hornswoggle.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 06:54PM
Lots of drug commercials you see on television list "suicidal thoughts or actions" as one of the possible side effects. If they're being that open about it - you know it must be true.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 06:58PM
I don't think that there should be a ban on SSRIs, because they do help a lot of people. But I do think they should be a lot more careful when prescribing them to people younger than 24.
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 09:08PM
Quote
Hornswoggle
Newtown Shootings: A Caution About Violence and SSRIs ( Dec 20, 2012 )

SSRIs rank high in the top ten drugs that cause violence

...In fact, SSRI’s are the leading drugs in a recent list compiled of the Top Ten Drugs that cause violent behavior.

It’s been well known that adolescents and young people have an increased risk of suicide when they begin to take SSRIs. But what we may forget is that suicide is an impulsive behavior that is turned against oneself. But impulses, particularly violent ones, can be turned against others.

An accompanying effect of SSRI’s is the dulling of feelings (link is external) that cause depression—and one of the main feelings in this line is empathy. If empathy is dulled and violent impulses increase when young people are on SSRI’s, then certainly that is a recipe for causing harm to others.

It’s not that SSRI’s are not an important part of a mental-health practitioner’s arsenal against mental illness—they are. But it is important to understand that they are not panaceas and may even contribute to more violence.

Rest at [www.psychologytoday.com]

The article at your link doesn't claim to be a list of the " Top Ten Drugs that cause violent behavior." All it says about the drugs that it lists is that they "are disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior towards others."

Correlation is not causation. In fact, your article itself goes on to add: "Please note that this does not necessarily mean that these drugs cause violent behavior."

Here's another interesting correlation: "[A *study that looked at trends in antidepressant use and at suicide rates in 29 European countries] found that in almost all countries, greater increases in antidepressant usage were associated with greater reductions in suicide rates."

* [journals.plos.org]

If correlation is causation then the use of antidepressant drugs reduces suicide rates.

Here's another interesting observation. Per capita, SSRI use in Canada, Australia, Iceland, etc., is at least comparable to that of the US. If SSRI use is a major factor in mass murder rates then why is the mass murder rate in those countries infinitesimal compared to the US'?
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 09:11PM
Where's the source to back up your previous statement, Dick?
Re: The link between SSRI drugs and mass shootings
October 08, 2015 09:17PM
Studies have shown a link between SSRI use and violence in the 15-24 age group.

The L.A. Times article goes a little into the upside of SSRI meds.

The availability of guns, the sheer number of them, is the biggest culprit in these mass murders. I support a multi-faceted approach. We should be looking at everything, especially since banning guns altogether, which I support, isn't going to happen.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/2015 09:29PM by Hornswoggle.
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