The Board of Directors and membership of the International Society For Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry send condolences to the people of Newtown, Connecticut on their horrific losses. Our hearts go out to the parents of the children who were killed and to the families and friends of the adults who were killed.
We are calling for an inquiry into the connection between these acts of mass murder and the use of psychotropic drugs. Although the media have cited family members and acquaintances saying Adam Lanza was taking prescription drugs to treat “a neurological-development disorder”, we do not know if he was on psychotropic drugs. But we do know that James Holmes, the Colorado batman shooter, had taken 100 milligrams of Vicodin immediately before he shot up the movie theatre
(1). And we do know that:
- Christopher Pittman was on antidepressants when he killed his grandparents (2).
- Eric Harris, one of the gunmen in the Columbine school shooting, was taking Luvox and Dylan Klebold, his partner, had taken Zoloft and Paxil (3).
- Doug Williams, who killed five and wounded nine of his fellow Lockheed Martin employees, was on Zoloft and Celexa (4).
- Michael McDermott was on three antidepressants when he fired off 37 rounds and killed seven of his fellow employees in the Massachusetts Wakefield massacre (5).
- Kip Kinkel was on Prozac when he killed his parents and then killed 2 children and wounded 25 at a nearby school (6).
- In fourteen recent school shoots, the acts were committed by persons taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in over 100 wounded and 58 killed (7).
- In other school shootings, information about the shooter’s prescription drug use and other medical history were kept from public records (7).
This connection between psychotropic drugs and mass murder is not coincidental. There is enough evidence that antidepressants cause increased risk of suicide and violence for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its Canadian counterpart to require that drug companies include a “black box” warning to that effect on their packages. Our first knowledge of this association between psychotropic drugs and violence came from studies completed in the early 1950s, (8).
I haven’t heard of the International Society For Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) and do not know whether or not the organization is respected or reviled in the psychiatric community. With that said if the above information is accurate it would certain warrant some investigation. Psychotropic drugs are interesting as they work by directly interacting with the brain. Since we don’t fully understand the workings of the human brain yet unintended side-effects may very well spring up from the use of such drugs. Either way I’ll post more if more comes up.