Psych meds linked to 90% of school shootings

By on December 23, 2012

NEW YORK – From the moment news emerged Friday that a young man had carried  out a horrific massacre of elementary-school children, politicians from local  city halls to the White House have been restoking the age-old push for more gun  control. While guns have been a common denominator in mass slayings at schools  by teens, there’s another familiar element that seems increasingly to be  minimized.

Some 90 percent of school shootings over more than a decade have been linked  to a widely prescribed type of antidepressant called selective serotonin  reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, according to British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy,  a founder of, an independent website for researching and reporting on  prescription drugs.

Though there has been no definitive confirmation that drugs played a role in  the Newtown, Conn., assault, that killed 20 children and six adults, media have  cited family members and acquaintances saying suspect Adam Lanza was taking  prescription medication to treat “a neurological-development disorder,” possibly  Aspergers.

Healy cautioned that the public needs “to wait to find out what Adam Lanza  was on, and whether his behavior does fit the template of a treatment-induced  problem.”

However, in an email to WND, he said he suspected prescribed psychiatric  medications was the cause of Lanza’s violent behavior.

Healy said that while the public waits to learn more about Lanza, there are  two general points that can be made.

First, he said, “psychotropic drugs of pretty well any group can trigger  violence up to and including homicide.”

“Second, the advocates of treatment claim both that it is the illness and not  the drugs that causes violence and that we are leaving huge numbers of people  untreated.”

But Healy argued that if this were the case, “we should not find that  comfortably over 90 percent of school shootings are linked to medication  intake.”

Dr. Peter R. Breggin, a Harvard-trained  psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at the National Institute of Mental  Health, told WND it’s likely that problems for Lanza began with “getting tangled  up” with psychiatric medicine.

Breggin insisted there has been overwhelming scientific evidence for decades  correlating psychiatrically prescribed drugs with violence.

Writing in Ethical Human Sciences and Services, a peer-reviewed scholarly  journal, in 2003, Breggin concluded  SSRI drugs could be a factor in suicide, violence and other forms of extreme  abnormal behavior, as evidenced in case reports, controlled clinical trials,  and epidemiological studies in children and adults.

Since the 1970s, Breggin has testified in approximately 100 trials, including  one in which Judge Robert Heinrichs ruled the adverse effects of taking Prozac  drove a 16-year-old in Winnipeg, Canada, to commit an unprovoked murder.

Breggin  appeared before the Veterans Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of  Representatives in 2010 in support of his 2008 book “Medication  Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and  Crime.”

Breggin testified to Congress that research conducted in the medical science  demonstrates a causal relationship between antidepressant drugs and the  production of suicide, violence, mania and other behavioral abnormalities.

He warned Congress of the risks of giving these drugs to heavily armed young  men and women in the military.

Mainstream religion

Breggin asserted that establishment media “ignores the scientific evidence  linking psychiatric medications and violent behavior because psychiatry is the  religion of the mainstream media, and they don’t want to see the dangers of  psychiatrically prescribed drugs.”

“Besides, the drug companies also have incredible influence through  advertising such that they can call the shots,” he said.

He believes the Lanza case fits the pattern of school shooters in some of the  most famous incidents in recent memory, including the 1999 shootings at  Columbine High School in Colorado and the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007.

“Adam Lanza has in common with many of the young men who were shooters that  they were outsiders who lived in the shadows, who deal with a lot of shame,  humiliation and isolation,” Breggin explained.

He calls the psychiatric diagnoses “worthless.”

“We know exactly who they are,” he said. “They are called ‘geeky’ in the  extreme. Not a single one has ever come forward with a close friend. They are  alienated from their families, and they have been involved in psychiatry.”

Breggin insists that instead of psychiatric treatment, children of this kind  need “more reaching out, more socialization, more caring, more involvement.”

“Our schools, our families, and our communities need to be aware of the kids  who are withdrawn and violent, not because they are going to become violent –  hardly any of them are going to become violent – but because these are really  hurt kids,” he said.

“We can call them evil, we can call them mentally ill, but the pattern is  really quite clear,” Breggin continued. “They are highly intelligent and highly  withdrawn and they are all involved with psychiatry, so the claim psychiatry is  going to do some good is really ridiculous.”

In many school shootings carried out by minors, court documents are sealed  and the extent of chemical use is unknown to the public.

But in a number of high-profile cases, the link has been reported:

  • Kip Kinkel was withdrawing from Prozac and had been prescribed Ritalin when  he murdered his mother and stepfather then shot 22 classmates, killing two, in  1998.
  • Christopher Pittman was withdrawing from Luvox and from Paxil when he killed  his paternal grandparents in 2001.
  • Elizabeth Bush, who fired at fellow students in Williamsport, Pa., in 2001,  wounding one, was on Prozac.
  • Jason Hoffman, was on Effexor and Celexa when he opened fire at his El  Cajon, Calif., high school, wounding five.
  • Shawn Cooper of Notus, Idaho, was on antidepressants when he fired a shotgun  on students and staff.
  • T.J. Solomon, on antidepressants, wounded six at his Conyers, Ga., high  school.
  • Eric Harris was taking Luvox when he and fellow student Dylan Klebold killed  12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others before turning their guns on  themselves at Columbine High School in Colorado.
  • At Virginia Tech in 2007, where 32 were murdered, authorities found  “prescription medications related to the treatment of psychological problems had  been found among Mr. Cho’s effects,” according to the New York Times.

“Violence and other potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription  drugs are medicine’s best kept secret,” Healy  said in a statement last month. “Never before in the fields of medicine and  law have there been so many events with so much concealed data and so little  focused expertise.”

In the past six years, Healy has authored two best-selling books analyzing  the degree to which the pharmaceutical industry has influenced medical doctors  to prescribe antidepressant drugs to patients with psychiatric problems: “Let  Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the Pharmaceutical Industry  and Depression,” in 2006 and “Pharmageddon” in 2012.

Recently, Healy’s  added a “violence section” to its website, allowing users to enter the name  of a prescription drug to find out the side effects recorded in the more than 4  million adverse drug event reports filed with the FDA since 2004.

Was Lanza on meds?

Writing  for Monday, Emily Willingham was quick to warn against demonizing  Asperger’s syndrome, or autism in general, as the cause of Lanza’s violence.  Likewise, in  a New York magazine piece titled “Asperger’s is a Red Herring to Explain the  Newtown Massacre,” Adam Martin wrote, “As the nation sets out to understand  how Friday’s massacre came to pass, some are rightly worried that the  high-functioning form of autism will become unfairly stigmatized.”

Nevertheless, credible sources have not withdrawn published claims that Lanza  was on prescribed psychiatric medication at the time of the shooting.

On CBS’s  “60 Minutes” Sunday, Mark and Louise Tambascio, friends of the shooter’s  mother, Nancy Lanza, said Adam Lanza was being medicated for Asperger’s.

“I know [Adam Lanza] was on medication and everything, but she homeschooled  him at home cause he couldn’t deal with the school classes sometimes,” Louise  Tambascio told CBS reporter Scott Pelley. “So she just homeschooled Adam at that  home. And that was her life.”

Her comment followed Mark Tambascio explaining to Scott Pelley that “friends  told us that [Asperger’s syndrome] did dominate the Lanzas’ lives.”

In addition, the Washington  Post reported over the weekend an unnamed former neighbor of Nancy and Adam  Lanza in Newtown, Conn., recalled Adam as “a really rambunctious kid” who “was  on medication.”

The story became confused when a now discredited source claiming to be Adam  Lanza’s “Uncle Jonathan” told several publications, including the Sun in the  United Kingdom, that Adam was being treated with the strong anti-psychotic drug  Fanapt.

Later reports found no relatives who knew “Uncle Jonathan.”

Separately, law enforcement officers have found evidence Lanza played  graphically violent video games, the Hartford  Courant reported on Sunday.

The Express in the United Kingdom reported  Monday that Lanza had “an unhealthy obsession for violent video games” and  that his favorite video game was said to be a “shockingly violent” fantasy war  game called Dynasty Warriors, which is “thought to have given him inspiration to  act on his darkest thoughts.”


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