Dr Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist, was interviewed by Thom Hartmann, on September 23, 2013, about his book Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime.
Psychiatric Drugs and Mass Shooting
Dr Breggin recognizes how psychiatric medications, meant to take away symptoms of distress, can actually lead a person to violence–either suicide or shooting others. Breggin speaks about Eric Harris who killed classmates and teachers at Columbine High School in 1999 before suiciding. Eric was taking SSRIs at the time. Adam Lanza, the 20 year old man who shot his mother, then 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook in 2012 before suiciding. He was also on psychiatric medication.
Of course, some people who take medications fare very well, and find it easier to be successful in their work and relationship life by taking psychiatric medications prescribed by their psychiatrist. However, Breggin notes in videos on his website and in his books that some of the shootings that have occurred in the last 22 years may well be connected to the negative side-effects of psychiatric medications.
Current News on Mass Shooting
It’s March 26, 2021 today. In the last two weeks a 21 year old man killed 8 people in Atlanta, Georgia. Another 21 year old man indiscriminately killed 10 people in a Boulder, Colorado, market. The motives are not clear; we can only speculate. It’s worth asking, “Were these two young men impacted by psychiatric medications they were on?”
The potentially negative side effects of psychiatric medications are: Lack of empathy towards others, feelings of no meaningful connection to others, unusual and uncharacteristic fantasies of killing numbers of people, a sense of dissociation from one’s normal ethics and way of doing things.
What Statistics Tell Us
In the last 10 years the USA has averaged 7 mass shootings each year according to Statista Research Department. A new Express Scripts research report in 2020, America’s State of Mind reflects that the use of antidepressants, especially among American teenagers, has increased significantly. Overall, there was a 15% increase in the number of people taking antidepressants from 2015 through 2019; and among teens (13-19 years old), the use of these medications jumped 38%, highlighting an alarming need for mental health care services in this age group
Of course, there are many factors that can cause someone to kill themselves or commit a mass shooting. Unresolved trauma. Serious instability. Profound loneliness. Deep-seated aggression stimulated by being bullied. But it is worth noting that as we have an increase in the use of psychiatric medication in the general population, we simultaneously see an increase in suicides and mass shooting. As Breggin notes, both have been going on, with a corresponding ascent, for years.
Author: Emma Bragdon is the Executive Director of IMHU.