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CCHR Observes 25th Anniversary of Columbine Mass Shooting with Call for Government Investigation into Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Violence

Mental health watchdog also calls for laws requiring toxicology testing for psychiatric drugs for perpetrators of mass shootings and other serious violent crimes so the full extent of the risk of violence from antidepressants can be known.

As the 25th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting approaches, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is calling for a long overdue government investigation into the link between psychiatric drugs and violence.

“It is long past time for the federal government to investigate the role of antidepressants in mass shootings and other senseless acts of violence, which continue to plague the nation,” said Anne Goedeke, president of the CCHR National Affairs Office. “Toxicology testing for psychiatric drugs should be required by law for perpetrators of mass shootings and other violent crimes and maintained in a national database so the true extent of the risk of violence from antidepressants can be known. This is a matter of public health and safety.”

On April 20, 1999, two armed teenagers went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before taking their own lives. It was the worst school shooting in U.S. history at the time. While the medical records of one of the shooters remain sealed, the other teen is known to have been taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant, a class of drugs linked to many other mass shootings, stabbings, and other senseless acts of violence.

Peter Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist involved as an expert in legal actions related to the Columbine incident, has written that the journal of the shooter on antidepressants indicates he did not begin plans for the massacre until he started taking the drugs. His journal entries became increasingly violent and bizarre over time and as his dosage was increased, according to Breggin. A toxicology report showed that the shooter had an SSRI antidepressant in his system at the time of the incident. Breggin concluded that the shooter was on a drug that “caused violence or amplified any pre-existing violent tendencies.”

Breggin describes antidepressants as neurotoxic because they harm and disrupt the functions of the brain, causing abnormal thinking and behavior that includes the anxiety, aggressiveness, loss of judgment, impulsivity and mania that can lead to violence, with these harmful effects especially prevalent and severe in children and youth.

A Public Health Advisory issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 warned about serious adverse effects from this class of drugs. It advised that certain behaviors “are known to be associated with these drugs, such as anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness), hypomania [abnormal excitement] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas]” in adult and pediatric patients. (The definitions in brackets have been added.)

Evidence of the violence-inducing risk of antidepressants was found in a 2010 study that examined the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) for reports from 2004-2009 of homicide, homicidal thoughts, physical assault, physical abuse or other violence-related symptoms experienced while taking prescription drugs. Of the 31 drugs most associated with reports of violence, 11 were antidepressants, as were five of the top 10.

While not all antidepressant users experience symptoms of violence, and while not all acts of violence involve antidepressants, it has been documented in a significant number of high-profile shootings, stabbings and other incidents of violence that the perpetrators were taking, or were in withdrawal from, antidepressants.

Until more thorough data collection of the psychiatric drug histories and toxicology reports of the perpetrators of mass shootings and other senseless acts of violence is available, Americans may be denied the opportunity to find workable solutions to the real causes of the violence plaguing the nation.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

About the company: The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and the late psychiatrist and humanitarian Thomas Szasz, M.D., recognized by many academics as modern psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, to eradicate abuses and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.

Contact Info:
Name: Anne Goedeke
Email: Send Email
Organization: Citizens Commission on Human Rights, National Affairs Office
Address: Washington, DC

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Release ID: 89127440

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