The role of anti-depressants in mass killings

Since the latest mass murder in Connecticut many have called for the banning of many differing types of weapons. Some ever bizarrely are calling for the banning of some video games.

While it is easy to blame guns for the actions of people, no one is really looking at what sets off these nutters in order for them to commit these heinous crimes.

Long time readers will know of my battles with depression, and they will also know my position with regards to anti-depressants. I consider them to be a poor choice for combatting the debilitating effects of depression. Sure there are those out there that gain great benefit form them but the evidence is mounting that the drugs are not a one size fits all and that there are serious consequences for prescribing the wrong medication to someone they are ill-suited to.

Now we come to the correlation of anti-depressants and mass killings:

On this 12-year anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, let us not forget the real lesson of Columbine:  psychiatric drugs induce violence.

Shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.  At least one public report exists of a friend of Klebold who witnessed Klebold taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft and urged him to come off them.  Officially, Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.

Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft are in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  Among the international regulatory agencies issuing warnings on these antidepressants, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in 2004 warning that “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia [severe restlessness], hypomania [abnormal excitement] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas] have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants.”  (For further information on international studies and warnings about antidepressants, go to CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.)

Luvox, Paxil and other antidepressants also made the top 10 list of violence-inducing prescription drugs in a report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, which was based on data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (see “Study Reveals Top Ten Violence-Inducing Prescription Drugs [– Eight Are Psychiatric Drugs]”).

I have used bold to highlight some of the side effects of anti-depressants. I can tell you from personal experience that I have experienced every single one of those…some more than others, but every single one. Ask anyone who is a close friend of mine the difference between Cam on anti-depressants and Cam off anti-depressants.

I will bet you a dollar to a knob of goat poo that the shooter in Connecticut was on anti-depressants. People will of course say he had mental health issues, and that would be true…but were the mental health issues that caused him to on a rampage in school caused by his drugs, enabled by his drugs, or just that he was simply nuts to begin with.

Well let’s look at history:

Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare, is an expert consultant in cases like Columbine in which antidepressants are involved.

Dr. Tracy says the Columbine killers’ brains were awash in serotonin, the chemical which causes violence and aggression and triggers a sleep-walking disorder in which a person literally acts out their worst nightmare.  Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts “within weeks” after he began taking Zoloft, according to Dr. Tracy.  Due to his obsession with killing, Harris was switched to Luvox, which was in his system at the time of the shooting, according to his autopsy. However, the change from Zoloft to Luvox is like switching from Pepsi to Coke, Dr. Tracy said.

That was Columbine…what about others:

A growing number of school shootings and other shooting rampages were committed by individuals under the influence of, or in withdrawal from, psychiatric drugs known to cause mania, psychosis, violence and even homicide. Consider this list of 13 massacres over the past decade or so, resulting in 54 dead and 105 wounded – and these are just the ones where the psychiatric drugs are known. In other cases, medical records were sealed or autopsy reports not made public or, in some cases, toxicology tests were either not done to test for psychiatric drugs or not disclosed to the public. But this is what we do know about the mental health “treatment” of those who committed these acts of violence:

  • Dekalb, Illinois – February 14, 2008: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 16 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amount of Xanax in his system.
  • Omaha, Nebraska – December 5, 2007: 19-year-old Robert Hawkins killed eight people and wounded five before committing suicide in an Omaha mall. Hawkins’ friend told CNN that the gunman was on antidepressants, and autopsy results confirmed he was under the influence of the “anti-anxiety” drug Valium.
  • Jokela, Finland – November 7, 2007: 18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School in southern Finland, then committed suicide.
  • Cleveland, Ohio – October 10, 2007: 14-year-old Asa Coon stormed through his school with a gun in each hand, shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon had been placed on the antidepressant Trazodone.
  • Blacksburg, Virginia – April 16, 2007: 23-year-old Seung Hui Cho shot to death 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech, wounding 17 more, and then killing himself. He had received prior mental health treatment, however his mental health records remained sealed.
  • Red Lake, Minnesota – March 2005: 16-year-old Jeff Weise, on Prozac, shot and killed his grandparents, then went to his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation where he shot dead 7 students and a teacher, and wounded 7 before killing himself.
  • Greenbush, New York – February 2004: 16-year-old Jon Romano strolled into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Special education teacher Michael Bennett was hit in the leg. Romano had been taking “medication for depression”.
  • El Cajon, California – March 22, 2001: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, opened fire on his classmates, wounding three students and two teachers at Granite Hills High School.
  • Williamsport, Pennsylvania – March 7, 2001: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.
  • Conyers, Georgia – May 20, 1999: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with antidepressants when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.
  • Columbine, Colorado – April 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.
  • Notus, Idaho – April 16, 1999: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students. He was taking a prescribed SSRI antidepressant and Ritalin.
  • Springfield, Oregon – May 21, 1998: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 22. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac.

Why are we blaming guns?

I think we should really be looking at the evidence surrounding anti-depressants.

Given the growing list of shooters who were on psychiatric drugs, given the fact that 22 international drug regulatory agencies warn these drugs can cause violence, mania, psychosis, suicide and even homicide, and given the fact that a major study was just released confirming these drugs put people at greater risk of becoming violent, CCHR International asserts:  “Any recommendation for more mental health ‘treatment,’ which [inevitably] means putting more people and more kids on these [psychiatric] drugs, is not only negligent, but considering the possible repercussions, criminal.”

I think they may well be onto something here.

Given the increasing propensity to prescribe the same sorts of medications here, how long before we see a similar shooting in New Zealand?

Before you scoff and say it can’t happen here because of our gun laws…then I’d ask you to spend some time in South Auckland and see just how many hand guns are around down there despite some of the best firearms laws in the world.

If you need to talk to someone else:

Lifeline 0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOK0)

Youthline 0800 376 633

Samaritans 0800 726 666

(Samaritans 0800 number services Rotorua, Taupo, New Plymouth, Hawke’s Bay and Lower North Island only. See website for other numbers)

  • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Petal

    I may not have made it without benzodiazepine and prozac. It is not a “one size fits all” solution, but it was the perfect solution for me. It needs to be understood that these were not prescribed to be a permanent solution. Instead, it lowered anxiety, irritability and cut the manic and depressive peaks to the point where I could continue to function in the outside world and implement a plan of recovery with the help of some good people.

    “Depression” is a (dare I use the word) spectrum on which many people can be misdiagnosed. If your treatment isn’t working, talk with your doctor.

    One other dimension frequently overlooked is diet. I was gulping down high quantities of caffeine and had a huge carbo diet high in sugar. This was adding to the stress my already defenseless system was under.

    There is help out there.

    You are never alone.

    • Mitch82

      I’m in the same boat. Once I finally got to a level of Prozac that worked in my system, it was life changing. Up until then I’d tried alot of different AD’s and none worked, without the Prozac I’d be dead.

      Tried Paroxetine, the ‘Paxil’ mentioned about. That is a scary one. If it has a place in psychiatry, then IMO it needs to be used only in clinical settings. Sending people out the door with that shit is dangerous.

    • Orange

      dittos

    • unsol

      “”Depression” is a (dare I use the word) spectrum on which many people can be misdiagnosed. If your treatment isn’t working, talk with your doctor.

      One other dimension frequently overlooked is diet. I was gulping down high quantities of caffeine and had a huge carbo diet high in sugar. This was adding to the stress my already defenseless system was under.”

      Both statements so very true.

      Depression has many forms – some people can barely function, get out of bed and/or feel sad & cry all the time.

      Others function perfectly fine but with a weight on the inside that feels like it wants to drag them down

      Others feel disconnected, snappy and prone to being a hermit.

      There are so many variations so naturally the solution varies – medication has its place as many survivors of severe depression would be able to testify.

      One thing for sure though is that too often people look for pills to fix poor lifestyle choices or emotional dysfunction.

      But it can be a catch 22 – sometimes you need the happy pill in order to respond effectively to the counselling/therapy or even be able to start to make the necessary lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, sleep, alcohol etc.

      The moral of the story is no one should pass judgment or make sweeping generalisations. No 2 people are the same whether personality, bakcground or chemical make-up.

      Best thing to do is to be unconditionally accepting and supportive & focus on being the best person, friend, spouse or parent that you can be.

      I for one am not prepared to pass judgment and declare it was because of any one thing that this boy massacred innocent people. Maybe he came from a fantastic home & he was nuts, maybe he was on the wrong medication & that made him nuts, maybe he was bullied severely & that made him nuts, maybe he had horrific childhood trauma & that made him nuts. Who knows & does it matter? Not to those who lost their loved ones.

      But would he have done this had police issue type guns not been so readily available? Probably not. Pretty hard to go on a massacre with a 22 or 38 caliber

      • island time

        I Agree. Forget medications. If he did not have the guns he could not have caused this massacre

  • A nonny mouse

    It is an interesting correlation, but I don’t know whether it is relevant – I mean, there are so many people on anti-depressants that it might simply be a coincidence. Is it a coincidence that most of the people listed are also males? Perhaps, instead of blaming the anti-depressants, we should blame the doctors that hand them out like candy?

    In fact, why don’t we spread the blame out even further? These acts are a culmination of months, years worth of factors. We could blame everyone who bullied these people, everyone who laughed, everyone who stood by and didn’t help or intervene.

    I was told by a family member that, even though this was an absolute deplorable tragedy, the number of people killed that day is actually below the national average for deaths by guns. 12,000 US citizens died as the result of guns in 2008. 11 Japanese citizens died by the same cause over the same time span.

    • Mediaan

      Thoughtful summary. Some interesting thoughts also occur in comments on other international sites.

      I know it’s long and technical, but look…..

      The uniform of death – dressed all in black.
      A witness tells WFSB-TV that a second man was taken out of the woods in handcuffs wearing a black jacket and camouflage pants and telling parents on the scene, “I did not do it”. (remember: this, 2nd man, is key to the puzzle)

      Symbols found significant:.

      Newtown’s town symbol is a rooster weather-vane.
      Some info on Newtown:

      The town’s symbol, the town’s seal, is a rooster weather-vane. The rooster weather-vane located atop the meeting house is said to have been used as a target by French soldiers encamped there in 1781 during the Revolutionary War.

      Symbolically, the rooster is significant.

      The oldest rooster vane in existence is the cock of Brescia, Italy from 820 A. D. It is believed that around this time, the pope decreed each catholic church would bear a cock as a reminder of Peter and Calvary: “In this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times,” (The Bible, Matthew 26: 34).

      “The cock on top of the weathervane on a church…may be regarded as the guard and protector of life.” (Chevalier & Gheerbrant, supra., p. 210).

      The cock, along with the Ibis of Thoth (another Hermes-Mercury associated deity), has
      “…the gift of foreknowledge…the cock announces that darkness has vanished and light has come. Thus the bird is set on church spires and cathedral towers and this positioning on the highest points of holy buildings…may suggest the heavenly origins of the inner light which brings salvation [in the Gnostic-Hermetic sense] and the watchfulness of the soul to catch the first gleams of the spirit dawning in the closing shades of night”.

      As if that were not enough, “to alchemists the cock symbolizes the three stages through which the ‘work’ must pass, through his black claws, to his white feathers and his red comb” (Ibid).

      Finally, the cock is a symbol, in Freemasonry, “of vigilance and of the enlightenment which comes through initiation” (Ibid.,p. 212).

      “On the wall [of many Masonic Lodges hangs the image of a cock, hour-glass and scythe. The cock was sacred to the god Mercury(Hermes)…”

      Above reference: Masonic Papers by R.W.Bro. Leon Zeldis, “The Initiation inthe Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.”

      The killer’s name is Lance, which means “spear”.

      Note that the cock is linked with the dawn-god, Apollo. It is noteworthy that
      Apollo is also linked with spears (along with Athena).

      The (phallic) spear is another sun-symbol.

      Cock, the word, has military, sexual and dawning connotations.
      Hence, the symbol complex includes both solar and sexual emblems.

    • Seems to me

      Wonder how many of the 12,000 were suicides?

  • JC

    A bit of a chicken and egg situation. As is almost the norm for mass shootings this guy was shy, a loner and very bright. He also looks weird which is no help for that condition. Thats enough on its own to set off a massacre in the US.. drugs may well feature as part of the profile but the weirdness comes first.

    Another thing, mass shooting are on the increase in the US compared to 60 years ago (before PC) when such characters were quickly recognised and dealt with more appropriately. These days maybe 90% of the shooters were recognised as a problem earlier but everyone was too PC to do something about it (except maybe fire drugs into them). Back then the thought of allowing such types to learn about weapons or have access to them would have been anathema.

    Whatever, the genie is out of the bottle and the only way the US is going to limit the damage is to have responsible people armed around schools.. that means armed teachers. Nothing is more sickening and fruitless than to have teachers give their lives protecting their charges when the production of a gun can save the day.

    JC

  • parorchestia

    We have had mass shootings here http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/violent-crime/5.

  • http://twitter.com/Orcs2Elves Monique Angel

    I took prozac at varsity. Doctors handed it out like candy in the early 90’s.

    One night I found myself standing on top of a bridge about to throw myself off. I got talked down and went to the nearest hospital where I drove a cigarette into my finger instead. Those drugs are poison. I’ve never had a suicidal thought in my life other than in the few weeks I took that crap.

    • Tristanb

      So it wasn’t your depression? You know, the thing you got the Prozac for?

  • cows4me

    It’s probably still more politically convenient to blame firearm ownership then the thousands of mind altering drugs people take. The left have for years wanted to disarm the people, even if drugs are proven beyond doubt they are a contributing factor, this will be quietly ignored. I’m picking the root cause to most of these tragedies will not be addressed, it doesn’t suit the agenda. Besides the drug industry has more muscle then the arms industry.

    • Mediaan

      Well said, Cows. You are good value to read. What a man.

      Cui bono – who benefits? Restricting or preventing gun ownership is a big item on the agenda of groups that want to run society. These probably orchestrated events can be seen as possibly in pursuit of that goal.

  • Orange

    Oh man, dude, that website is just $cientology bullshit, and they’re trying to make money out of it. $cientology is a conspiracy mind control cult invented to make money from gullible people.

    • Mediaan

      CCHR does have Scientology background, but it has excellent material. I recommend it as accurate.

      They have at times done some superb work, including bringing the court matter forward where people were illegally put into “deep sleep” at Canadian and many other hospitals, to satisfy a CIA research project (refer Dr Ewen Cameron if interested). One victim was the wife of an MP. The case was won.

      • Agent BallSack

        LRon hated psychiatry with a vengeance I would take anything those people say about human mental conditions and put it with my belief in Santa.

        • Agent BallSack

          Oh my bad the thetans must have affected my thinking for a minute. /Tui

        • Mediaan

          Your point being …?

  • Mediaan

    WO, that is a terrific post. Thank you.

    Assembling all that, putting it together, is a great, great contribution.

    • Orange

      How long have you been involved with Scientology?

      • Mediaan

        Never, but recognise genuinely good bits. How long have you been a staunch supporter of the pharmaceutical companies?

        • Orange

          Answered like a true Scientologist! You’ve been involved enough to recognise good bits eh. Everyone who recognises Scientology as a cult is a staunch supporter of big companies eh?

          • Mediaan

            I stated it plainly. If a person states the truth plainly, that makes them a Scientologist?

            I have education, dear. Qualifications. Might be an incomprehensible aspect of life to someone like you. You should try it sometime.

            Now, your response to my question, that I notice you are trying to evade by throwing out rubbish accusations … ?

            What CCHR does must annoy the pharma industry hugely. It tries immensely hard to persuade people they have a disorder that pills are needed for. (Almost every time, they don’t.)

            Where do you stand on links to the pharmaceutical companies?

            Going to answer me this time, or duck again?

          • Mediaan

            I ought to point out that CCHR, while initially an offshoot of Scientology, is now it says quite separate. I have never been any part of it, or of Scientology.

          • Orange

            You are their spokesperson! On another topic, would you be opposed to all drug management treatment for, say, schizophrenia?

  • fozzie2
  • snigmile

    No one with mental issues should ever be allowed near a firearm. You would not be able to join the armed forces if you wrote down your depressive state or personality disorders on the application form because the risk of such a person going postal is too high. Why should they be allowed to own lethal weapons so they can exact their vengeance upon society for their total lack of sex life, mummy issues or whatever?

  • Tristanb

    Yeah, it seems like everyone with sore throats seems to be taking Strepsils. I guess Strepsils cause sore throats. Once I had a sore throat, so I took a Strepsil, and my throat was worse the next day – that proves it!

    This guy was fucked up. He was probably fucked up since birth – or maybe he caught it from his weirdo mother. He was a monster – although he only looked slightly different from the rest of us on the outside, he was completely different within.

    People like this have always existed. And they’ll keep being made. And there’s nothing we can do to stop that. It wasn’t bullying, it wasn’t mental illness, it wasn’t medications, it wasn’t guns, it wasn’t video games, it was him.

    Just like a cow born without a tail, or a dog born without eyes, he’s a boy born without a conscience, empathy or any human understanding. Now sure, it’s not inevitable that he would have killed, but we could never make him right again, we could never have made him normal.

    The fact is, that if he didn’t had access to guns he couldn’t have done this. He might have done something else, or he might not have bothered, we can’t know. And I’m not saying that’s a reason the US should ban guns – I don’t. It’s a freedom many there enjoy – but this will be the cost.

    Just like we have piece-of-shit selfish alcoholics kill innocent people with cars and drinks, we could solve it by banning cars and alcohol. We don’t, because that substitutes safety for freedom. Same with guns.

    But don’t start blaming this on hippie paranoid bullshit because you don’t believe tablets (that probably save lives) didn’t work on you – the tablets aren’t magic, they’re not meant to be, magic doesn’t exist. The deaths of those young children, the teachers and principle, the blame lies squarely and solely on the broken, evil little shit who did this.

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