Placing the Blame for Mass Murders Where it Belongs

by DAVID SAYERS January 9, 2013

The recent tragic, senseless murder spree in Newtown, CT has, once again, understandably, given rise to an outcry for solutions to gun violence. Unfortunately, it has also given a platform for the anti gun crowd to trot out their usual battery of  ill conceived, non factual hyperbole they use to promote their agenda. This anti second amendment witch hunt, as usual, makes no constructive inroads towards solving the problem. It merely gives some liberal politicians and others, an opportunity to be a "hero" to some. When will we stop wasting time, money and, more importantly, human lives and talk about some of the real root causes of these too oft repeated killing sprees? It's time to start connecting the dots instead of tilting at windmills.

There are two issues which have a direct causal bearing on these mass killings and yet have not been accorded the attention they deserve. Instead, the attention has been focused on other more politically correct but factually inaccurate causes. This failure to properly address the issues has been not only unfortunate but resulted in more unnecessary deaths.

1.     First Issue The change in the law which allowed mentally disturbed people who need to be under the care and 24 hr supervision of medical staff. They and are now allowed out in society where they have the responsibility to take their medication or not.

Deinstitutionalization played a substantial role in the dramatic increase in violent crime rates in America in the 1970s and 1980s. People who might have been hospitalized in 1950 or 1960 when they first exhibited evidence of serious mental illness today remain at large until they commit a serious felony. The criminal justice system then usually sends these mentally ill offenders to prison, not a mental hospital.

Note; a 2011 study by the University of California at Berkley found that states with a higher civil commitment laws  rate have a third less suicides.

A 2000 New York Times study of 100 rampage murderers found that 47 were mentally ill. In the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law (2008), Jason C. Matejkowski and his co-authors reported that 16% of state prisoners who had perpetrated murders were mentally ill.

In the mid-1960s, many of the killings would have been prevented because the severely mentally ill would have been confined and cared for in a state institution. But today, while government at most every level has bloated over the past half-century, mental-health treatment has been decimated. According to a study released in July by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the number of state hospital beds in America per capita has plummeted to 1850 levels, or 14.1 beds per 100,000 people. Moreover, a 2011 paper by Steven P. Segal at the University of California, Berkeley, "Civil Commitment Law, Mental Health Services, and U.S. Homicide Rates," found that a third of the state-to-state variation in homicide rates was attributable to the strength or weakness of involuntary civil-commitment laws.

It's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of people with mental illness do not commit crimes or engage in violence.  But the popular refrain that there's no link between mental illness and violence is simply wrongDavid Kopel's editorial in  WSJ December 18, 2012

"We need to look at this relatively new phenomenon where young people in our country are motivated to take revenge for whatever demon is inside them, whatever voice is talking to them, to do something really awful at a major level like what happened...The 10 percent [of mentally ill people] who are prone to violence usually have a very serious mental illness like Jared, where voices are telling them to do things and they just lose control of themselves and a lot of times they will commit a violent act...but with treatment, most of that could be avoided..."    U.S. Representative Ron Barber was shot by Jared Lee Loughner in January 2011.

2.     Second issue  The increasing use of psychiatric drugs by a high percentage of people doing these mass murders.

When these two factors are combined, the synergistic effect can have horrific and deadly consequences as we have seen all too often including twice this month. This is not to deny or downplay the role violent movies and video games may also have on our youth.      

It is this second causal factor (psychiatric drugs) which this letter attempts to address.

The correlation between psychiatric drugs and acts of violence and homicide is well documented - both by international drug regulatory warnings and studies, as well as by hundreds of cases where high profile acts of violence/mass murder were committed by individuals under the influence of psychiatric drugs.

The use of SSRI drugs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) has been steadily ramping up over the last four decades. They were and are seen by some, as a panacea to attempt to deal with students and others thought to be suffering from psychiatric disorders such as hyper tension, anxiety and depression. Before the introduction of Prozac in Dec. 1987, less than one percent of the population in the U.S. was diagnosed with bipolar disorder - also known as manic depression.  Now, with the widespread prescribing of antidepressants, the percent of the population in the United States that is diagnosed with bipolar disorder (swing from depression to mania or vice versa) has risen to 4.4%3 .  This is almost one out of every 23 people in the U.S.

Psychiatric drugs are big business.  The psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is making a killing-$84 Billion per year based on people being labeled with mental disorders that are not based on science or medicine, but on marketing campaigns...

The Danger There is a grave concern among advocates that adverse reactions are greatly underestimated by the public, the medical profession, and the regulatory authorities.


  • On September 14, 2004 the FDA added a Black Box Warning in regard to antidepressants & suicidality in those under age 18.
  • Japanese Warning on Violence The Ministry of Health,Labor and Welfare in Japan has investigated reports where people on antidepressants have committed sudden acts of violence against others. The agency has decided to revise the warnings on the medication guide toread, "There are cases where we cannot rule out a causal relationship with the medication."
  • Psychiatric drug side effects- there are 207 International Psychiatric Drug Regulatory Warnings, 221 Psychiatric Drug Studies and more than 470,000 adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs on file with the US FDA (only 1-10% are ever reported so these numbers represent only a fraction of the side effects being experienced by patients/consumers

The Problem has been Ignored for Years

Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) published the following information:                                      At least 14 school shooters were under the influence of psychiatric drugs documented to cause mania, psychosis, hostility, aggression and homicidal ideation. There is overwhelming evidence that psychiatric drugs cause violence. 22 International drug regulatory warnings cite violence, mania, hostility, aggression, psychosis and even homicidal ideation. School shootings committed by individuals under the influence of such drugs have resulted in 109 wounded and 58 killed. And those are only the cases where the information has been made public. The real question is, why does the media downplay this obvious correlation and why has there never been a federal investigation.

Federal Investigation Long Overdue

As far back as 1991, CCHR, along with numerous experts brought evidence before the US FDA that antidepressants were causing suicide and violence. The heavily Pharma-funded FDA panel ignored the evidence provided, and it would take 14 years, and a great deal of public pressure,  for the FDA to finally issue it's strongest warning, the black box, on antidepressants inducing suicidal ideation.   21 years later, the FDA has yet to issue a black box warning on antidepressants and other classes of psychiatric drugs documented by international regulatory agencies and studies to cause violence.  This is not in the public's interest, who deserve to be warned.

Fact: Despite 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile school shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence.

Fact: Between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S. FDA's MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence.  These include 300 cases of homicide, nearly 3,000 cases of mania and over 7,000 cases of aggression.  Note:  By the FDA's own admission, only 1-10% of side effects are ever reported to the FDA, so the actual number of side effects occurring is most certainly higher.

Fact: At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public-neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.)   The most important fact about this list, is that these are only the shooters where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public.   To give an example, although  it is known that James Holmes,  suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting that occurred July 20, 2012, at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was seeing psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, no mention has been made of what psychiatric drugs he may have been taking.  Also note that all these mass shootings didn't just occur in the United States.

The Physicians' Desk Reference

The Physicians' Desk Reference lists the following adverse reactions (side effects) to antidepressants among a host of other physical and neuropsychiatric effects.  None of these adverse reactions (side effects) is listed as Rare.  They are all listed as either Frequent or as Infrequent:


  • Manic Reaction (Mania, e.g., Kleptomania, Pyromania, Dipsomania, Nymphomania)
  • Hypomania (e.g., poor judgment, over spending, impulsivity, etc.)
  • Abnormal Thinking
  • Hallucinations
  • Personality Disorder
  • Amnesia
  • Agitation
  • Psychosis
  • Abnormal Dreams
  • Emotional Lability (Or Instability)
  • Alcohol Abuse and/or Craving
  • Hostility
  • Paranoid Reactions
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Akathisia (Severe Inner Restlessness)
  • Discontinuation (Withdrawal) Syndrome
  • Impulsivity

Withdrawal Effects 

·        Many people have reported to the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and the Prozac Survivor's Support Group that they had both an immediate withdrawal syndrome and then a delayed withdrawal syndrome.  They report that the delayed withdrawal syndrome was at its worst between 3 and 9 months after discontinuing the antidepressant.   Symptoms of antidepressant induced mania could persist for up to a year after discontinuation of antidepressants.   

  • Adverse reactions are most likely to occur when starting or discontinuing the drug, increasing or lowering the dose or when switching from one SSRI to another. Adverse reactions are often diagnosed as bipolar disorder when the symptoms may be entirely iatrogenic (treatment induced).

Violence towards others   

  • "Acts of violence towards others are a genuine and serious adverse drug event associated with a relatively small group of drugs. Varenicline [Chantix] , which increases the availability of dopamine, and antidepressants with serotonergic effects [SSRIs & SNRIs] were the most strongly and consistently implicated drugs. Prospective studies to evaluate systematically this side effect are needed to establish the incidence, confirm differences among drugs and identify additional common features."
  • Acts of violence towards others are a genuine and serious adverse drug event associated with a relatively small group of drugs.

A Public Health Problem of Epidemic Proportions

"There is a grave concern among advocates that adverse reactions are greatly underestimated by the public, the medical profession, and the regulatory authorities. Each of these stories in our list can be interpreted as an adverse reaction and in most cases we have highlighted the portion of the article that refers to evidence of bizarre behavioral change consistent with drug reaction. In some stories causation is acknowledged and the juxtaposition of these stories with those where it goes unrecognized as well as the repetition of themes and circumstances is chilling. If indeed medications played a significant role in all these tragedies, then this is a public health problem of epidemic proportions on a global scale."

 For more information it is strongly recommended that readers avail themselves of the complete research available here.

A lengthy study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades "displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings." New York Times columnist David Brooks and Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson have both suggested that the ACLU-inspired laws that make it so difficult to intervene and identify potentially dangerous people should be loosened. "Will we address mental-health and educational-privacy laws, which instill fear of legal liability for reporting potentially violent mentally ill people to law enforcement?" asks Professor Jacobson. "I doubt it."

 "Antidepressants have been recognized as potential inducers of mania and psychosis since their introduction in the 1950s.  Klein and Fink1 described psychosis as an adverse effect of the older tricyclic antidepressant imipramine. Since the introduction of Prozac in December, 1987, there has been a massive increase in the number of people taking antidepressants. Preda and Bowers2 reported that over 200,000 people a year in the U.S. enter a hospital with antidepressant-associated mania and/or psychosis. The subsequent harm from this prescribing can be seen in these 4,800+ stories.

Before the introduction of Prozac in Dec. 1987, less than one percent of the population in the U.S. was diagnosed with bipolar disorder - also known as manic depression.  Now, with the widespread prescribing of antidepressants, the percent of the population in the United States that is diagnosed with bipolar disorder (swing from depression to mania or vice versa) has risen to 4.4%3 .  This is almost one out of every 23 people in the U.S."

  • "In the 69-month reporting period we identified 484 evaluable drugs that accounted for 780,169 serious adverse event reports of all kinds. This total included 1,937 (0.25%) cases meeting the violence criteria. The violence cases included 387 reports of homicide, 404 physical assaults, 27 cases indicating physical abuse, 896 homicidal ideation reports, and 223 cases described as violence-related symptoms. The patients were 41% female and 59% male with a mean age of 36 years (SD = 17.9) Consumers reported 651/1937 (38%) of the cases, foreign and domestic health professionals were the source for 967/1937 (49.9%) and the remainder were missing (2
  • Among 484 evaluable drugs, 31 drugs met the study criteria for a disproportionate association with violence, and accounted for 1527/1937 (79%) of the violence cases. 17), from lawyers (67) or clinical studies (34)".
  • 200,000 a Year Enter Hospital Due to Antidepressant- Induced Mania/ Psychosis: FDA Testimony
  • 860,000 People Suffered Mania From Antidepressants in 2000: Most Not Hospitalized: Book Stats
  • 150 Suicide Cases & 300 Suicide Attempts Settled: 3,200 Paxil Addictions Settled
  • Almost 11 Times More likely to Commit Violence/Murder while on SSRIs than on Other Drugs:
  • SSRIs & SNRIs, & Chantix, Have Highest Rate of Homicides/Violence of All Medications: PLoS
  • 4.8 Million Person Increase in Bipolar Disorder in Last 11 Years: Majority Due to SSRI Use
  • A/D's Can Worsen Overall Condition of a Depressive Episode: Cause Mania: Research in Italy

Consequences- Society pays the deadly price!

66 School Shootings/Incidents Involving SSRIs

Most of the stories on this site describe events that occurred after the year 2000.  The increase in online news material and the efficiency of search engines has greatly increased the ability to track stories.  Even these 4,800+ documented stories only represent the tip of an iceberg since most stories do not make it into the media. There are 115 cases of bizarre behavior, 66 school shootings/incidents, 68 road rage tragedies, 19 air rage incidents, 101 arson cases, 70 postpartum depression cases, over 1,000 murders (homicides) or murder attempts, over 300 murder-suicides (30% committed by women) and other acts of violence including workplace violence on this site.  There are also over 100 Journal Articles and FDA reports listed in the Index.  They are at the top of the Index immediately below the 66 school shootings/incidents and the 29 "won" criminal cases.

        Here is a very small sample of the deadly carnage resulting from the reactions to these drugs!

  • School Shooting Prozac WITHDRAWAL 2008-02-15Illinois** 6 Dead: 15 Wounded: Perpetrator Was in Withdrawal from Med & Acting Erratically
  • School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant 1995-10-12South Carolina**15 Year Old Shoots Two Teachers, Killing One: Then Kills Himself
  • School Shooting Luvox/Zoloft Antidepressants 1999-04-20**COLUMBINE: 15 Dead: 24 Wounded
  • School Shooting Prozac WITHDRAWAL 1998-05-21Oregon**Four Dead: Twenty Injured
  • School Stabbing Med For Depression 2011-10-25 Washington**Girl, 15, Stabs Two Girls in School Restroom: 1 Is In Critical Condition

There are about fifty more cases listed with full information on each one here.

As can readily be ascertained by the foregoing information there is a serious problem going on that is not being given the attention it deserves. Instead, time, money resources and more importantly, lives are being wasted in a mostly fruitless attempt to put the blame on lawful gun owners rather than where it should be.  People don't get violent because they have guns. They are violent and they use guns, or any other device to accomplish their twisted urges. Going after legal gun owners to stop gun violence is about as effective as raising taxes instead of cutting expenses in order to balance the budget. It doesn't solve the problem! 

This gun owner/ 2nd amendment witch hunt nonsense must stop! We need to get serious about addressing the real causes behind these killings. Please see that this information gets in the hands of those people who have the contacts and/ or influence to make a difference and get some positive action taken.


Addendum one

At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs.

Also note that all these mass shootings didn't just occur in the United States.

Of these 14, seven were seeing either a psychiatrist (5 of them) or psychologist (2 of them).  It is not known whether or not the other half were seeing a psychiatrist, as it has not been published.

1.  Huntsville, Alabama - February 5, 2010: 15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed another Discover Middle School student Todd Brown.  Memon had a history for being treated for ADHD and depression.  He was taking the antidepressant Zoloft and "other drugs for the conditions." He had been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist.

2. Kauhajoki, Finland - September 23, 2008: 22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself.  Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine. He was also seeing a psychologist.

3. Dekalb, Illinois - February 14, 2008: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 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. He had been seeing a psychiatrist.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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". He had previously seen a psychiatrist.

8. Wahluke, Washington - April 10, 2001: Sixteen-year-old Cory Baadsgaard took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage. He had been taking the antidepressant Effexor.

9. 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. He had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.

10. Williamsport, Pennsylvania - March 7, 2001: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.

11. Conyers, Georgia - May 20, 1999: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with the stimulant Ritalin when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.

12. 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. Both shooters had been in anger-management classes and had undergone counseling.  Harris had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.

13. 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.

14. 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 25. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac. Kinkel had been attending "anger control classes" and was under the care of a psychologist.

Chart of Shootings and Meds

David Sayers is a Viet Nam Veteran that served in the U.S. Army for 13 years, is airborne qualified. He Served with 82nd Airborne and 101st.  David is a graduate of Southern Oregon University and is a  small business owner for the past 30 years specializing in marketing and telecommunications.       

David Sayers is a Viet Nam Veteran that served in the U.S. Army for 13 years, is airborne qualified. He Served with 82nd Airborne and 101st.  David is a graduate of Southern Oregon University and is a  small business owner for the past 30 years specializing in marketing and telecommunications.     

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