Revealing the Link: SSRIs and School Shootings

paul 2011/12/10 05:28:47
Revealing the Link: SSRIs and School Shootings An in depth look at school shootings, and the commonly known side effects of SSRIs, reveals the drugs to be a primary factor leading to violence. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, are commonly used to treat depression in children and adolescents. In 2005, the Center for Disease Control reported that 118 million prescriptions had been written for anti-depressants, and that the number of people using anti-depressants had “almost tripled between the periods 1988-1994 and 1999-2000”. One popular SSRI drug called Prozac has been prescribed to more than 38 million people worldwide.

As more and more people are given SSRIs to combat depression, mounting evidence suggests that the side effects of SSRIs can lead to violent behavior and suicide. Many of the high fatality school shootings of the past 10 years have involved shooters who had been prescribed SSRIs. An in depth look at school shootings, and the commonly known side effects of SSRIs, reveals the drugs to be a primary factor leading to violence. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors work by altering the patient’s brain chemistry. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is released by one neuron to make another neuron fire, and is linked to mood and behavior. Serotonin is released into the space between neurons, called the synapse. In the natural course of events, the serotonin is then reabsorbed into the neuron it originally came from. SSRIs block this reuptake of the serotonin into the neuron. The idea is that with more serotonin in the synapse, the activity of the neurons will increase, which theoretically leads to better moods for some patients. Unfortunately SSRIs can cause many different side effects. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV is the most widely used source of diagnostic information for mental health by health professionals. It has “consistently confirmed that all anti-depressants can cause mania” which is a “potentially psychotic condition of intense mental and emotional excitement”. Mania often involves feelings of invulnerability, extreme power, farfetched and elaborate plans, as well as the urge to commit violence.
A recent controlled clinical trial of the SSRI Prozac showed that it caused mania in six percent of the test subjects. Other side effects of Prozac include agitation, anxiety, instability, confusion, hallucinations, hostility and psychosis. Studies have also repeatedly shown an increased risk of suicide for people taking an SSRI. Research has shown that Prozac and drugs like it could be causing people with no history of mental illness to become suicidal. In 2004, a federal panel of drug experts said antidepressants “could cause children and teenagers to become suicidal.” The drug agency also warned that changes in dosage can increase the risk of suicide. SSRIs are particularly dangerous because they cause both suicidal and violent tendencies in some individuals.
It is likely that some of the school shooters may have already been suicidal before they decided to go on killing sprees. Not only does Prozac cause suicide, it often causes especially violent suicide, such as stabbing one’s self to death. A person who suffers from agitated depression is especially prone to violence. The individual is both depressed and stimulated. In many cases, agitated depression is often made worse by SSRIs, resulting in suicide, murder or both. Negative side effects often occur when starting the drug treatment or altering the dosage.
A condition called Akathisia is a common neurological disorder that affects people taking SSRI medications. Patients suffering from Akathisia complain of “unease, distress, dysphoria, and inner restlessness.” Patients may be unable to stand or sit still. This can manifest as repetitive movements of the legs and feet, and the patient may stand and sit repeatedly. Akathisia can develop into a chronic condition which may be irreversible.
Akathisia is described as “virtual inner torture of irritation and anguish” that can cause patients to act out in bizarre and sometimes violent ways. In 1999, British psychologist David Wilkinson gave a clinical presentation of a case in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. He revealed how a previously nonviolent fifteen year old male overturned store merchandise stands, smashed another student in the mouth, and committed a robbery while on Prozac. Wilkinson believed that “emotional blunting” caused by Prozac had driven the young man to commit violence. Many doctors are misinformed about the effects of the SSRIs they prescribe patients. Scientific workshops attended by many doctors are often nothing more than drug company sponsored advertisement sessions. It is often times easier for a doctor to blame side effects on the patient’s “mental illness” instead of the drugs they have prescribed the patient.
The Columbine High School massacre took place on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado. Eric Harris and Dylan Kybold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives. They injured 21 other students. It was then reported that Eric Harris had been rejected from joining the military because he was being treated with an SSRI medication called Luvox. Harris had been taking Luvox for a year while developing his plans for mass murder. Toxicology reports released by the drug maker showed that Harris had therapeutic levels of Luvox in his system at the time of the shootings. Jeff Wise, a teenager who killed nine people before committing suicide had been taking large dosages of Prozac.
A relative of Mr. Weise said that his dosages had been increased in the weeks leading up to the shooting, a reoccurring factor in SSRI induced suicides. In 1989, Joseph Wesbecker shot and killed eight co-workers and himself. He had been taking Prozac.
Cho Seung Hui, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech senior killed thirty-two people and wounded many others before committing suicide. It was reported that investigators believed he may have been prescribed medication for depression. The common factor connecting all of these shooters is the use of SSRIs prior to the shootings. Could it be possible that the SSRI was the catalyzing factor in driving these school shooters over the edge? Could an increase in dosage have triggered Jeff Wise’s shooting spree? Preexisting mental illness in combination with SSRI induced emotional blunting, mania, and suicidal desires could have been the perfect recipe for these high casualty school shootings.
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  • Katherine 2012/01/06 12:29:11 (edited)
    Are you kidding me? The anti-depressants caused severe depression and violent tendencies? I.. don't know what to say. Reminds me of some asthma medication with a side effect of trouble breathing. Doesn't that defeat the purpose! Eh!
  • Razoreye001 2011/12/15 01:48:16
    the answer is make teachers open carry guns.
  • Rave 2011/12/10 11:14:52
    To be honest, I think it's too easy to blame an anti-depressant or anti-psychotic, would anyone who already wasn't suffering from depression and problems be taking the medication in the first place? Probably not. The medication just didn't work, didn't stop the problem.
  • BMG Rave 2012/12/17 05:55:58
    The side effects warn of violent behavior. The last school shooting involved someone taking meds for depression. Prior to taking these meds, he had no history of violent behavior. When you screw with brain chemistry, bad things can happen. Not always, but there are still risks.
  • Rave BMG 2012/12/17 06:54:58
    Which SSRIs warn of violent behavior?

    I wrote a thesis titled "The potential consequences following the increase of anti-depressant prescription on adolescents in the US" in which I researched the side effects of SSRIs, MAOIs and TCAs and studied what is known about the effects on the young nervous system and what social/physical/emotional effects have followed by it. I read many studies that had followed those within the ages of 12-19 that were taking antidepressant medication.

    SSRIs were shown to increase only self-harming behavior and violence towards one-self, including suicical behavior, but not towards others. The interesting thing is that SSRIs only induced self-harming behavior and suicidal tendencies on those who were mildly, moderately or not depressed, yet for people with very strong depression, the SSRIs showed to improve well-being, make them feel more social and accepted.

    So the problem with SSRIs appears to be in misdiagnosis, the medication is rather strong and is supposed to be only used to very intense cases of depression, and not in mild depression as it might make the symptoms worse.
  • sglmom 2011/12/10 07:18:37
    I think it is an easy (convenient) answer to put the blame .. everywhere EXCEPT on the individual who made the CHOICE to murder in the first place.
    (ANYONE .. any age .. child or adult .. can make the Conscious Choice to KILL .. with forethought/malice indeed)
    For example .. around 2-3 years of age .. my children already knew that some choices were good (and they should take care of each other .. protect family) ... and that other choices were bad (that abusing others was bad .. no hitting or biting or bad behaviors!) ...

    Sometimes .. yes, sometimes .. the wrong meds prescribed can affect one's thought processes .. but the capability .. to commit such heinous acts .. are already present anyways.
  • Jessica... sglmom 2012/12/18 04:38:50 (edited)
    Jessica Chernila
    I assume youve tried these specific anti depressants that have allegedly been used prior tonumerous mass murders?....
  • sglmom Jessica... 2012/12/18 04:44:45
    And I Assume this is yet another sock profile to troll?
    How about finding another hobby ..
  • mustangluver 2011/12/10 06:30:01
    I think too much is conveniently blamed on everything but the kid himself...who had some type of mental illness to begin with and then given meds and they sometimes make the problem worse. I think anyone at any age that can take the life of another is also evil..
  • hooda 2011/12/10 06:25:10
    They wouldn't be on the meds if they didn't already have a problem. It's hard to figure out if the drugs pushed them over the edge or not.
  • Roger47 2011/12/10 05:36:26
    This is a chicken and egg type problem. Are kids that are already messed up to the point where such meds more likely to be violent because of their underlying issues, whether prescribed the meds or not?
    Perhaps it would be prudent to bar people with any documented mental health history from owning firearms. The NRA would fight such regulations all the way to the Supreme Court, but if upheld, such laws would save lives.
  • paul Roger47 2011/12/10 05:40:46
    did you read the whole article?
  • Katherine Roger47 2012/01/06 12:53:48
    The article isn't about gun laws, it's about "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors" and how they cause severe depression and violence. Or, those stories you've heard about mass killings have involved people who were on these drugs.

  • BMG Roger47 2012/12/17 06:18:13
    Discriminating against people with any mental disorders is just disgusting. SSRI's warn that they may cause violent behavior. You should seriously learn the difference between a common mental disorder and insanity. If you are in a room with 10 people, odds are at least 2 of them have some kind of mental disorder. Mental disorders that make you violent is a different story.

    These drugs may effect people differently. You could give one person an SSRI and they may feel 100% better. You could give another person that same SSRI and they may sink further into depression to the point that they have a mental breakdown.

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