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 RxISK.org, 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.