The link between violence and antidepressants
by Ernest Ryan
Special to Toledo Free Press
Cases like the Virginia Tech shooting are not limited to schools. These kind of multiple murders occur in the workplace and are sometimes referred to as “going postal.” What puts a person in a state of mind to kill large numbers of fellow students or coworkers or drown their children as Andrea Yates did? These weren’t people brought up on mean streets and involved in gun violence at an early age.
The vast majority of such school killers were just kids who had no previous history of violence but were put on antidepressants. Just as alcohol can make some people happy and others want to fight, antidepressants make some people experience powerful urges to commit suicide and violence. Because of this, the FDA issued a Black Box warning for antidepressants in 2004 saying they can cause suicide and violence. The label on Effexor, the drug Andrea Yates was on, now warns it can cause homicidal ideation. America’s most popular antidepressant makes a certain amount of people want to go out and kill others.
Experience and hindsight allow us to realize how wrong something has been even after years of being endorsed by doctors, politicians, the media and celebrities. It took more than 200 years to wise up about smoking. We also had to overcome a powerful tobacco lobby that influenced our media and politicians. Does anybody today think taking LSD is therapeutic? Yet it was psychiatry’s wonder drug for schizophrenia in the 1950s. When will we believe the evidence in front of us instead of what we are being told to believe?
Murder/suicides like Virginia Tech, Red Lake and Columbine started to become frequent after 1988, just after Prozac became popular. A few medical studies have shown the link between antidepressants and violence but drug companies have been quick to counter them with their own studies.
One of the best studies on this was done by Dr. Martin Teicher and published in the (ITAL)American Journal of Psychiatry(ITAL) in Feb. 1990. The introduction of that study said, “Six depressed patients free of recent serious suicidal ideation developed intense, violent suicidal preoccupation after 2-7 weeks of fluoxetine [the chemical name for Prozac] treatment. This state persisted for as little as 3 days to as long as 3 months after discontinuation of fluoxetine. None of these patients had ever experienced a similar state during treatment with any other psychotropic drug.”
Since 1988, hundreds of cities have had smaller murder-suicide incidents like Virginia Tech. Most citizens don’t realize the connection. The January 2005 Jeep Plant shootings and suicide committed by Myles Meyers are a local example. What causes a man to do this after 54 years of life? Toxicology results proved he had been on psychiatric drugs.
One way to greatly reduce these types of school killings is to prevent people from taking drugs that cause them to become violent. Great Britain now forbids doctors from prescribing antidepressants to anyone 18 and under due to the violent side-effects they cause. Diet, exercise and counseling are being used there to treat depression in teens. Who has the power to keep that out of the news in America? Could it be the drug companies that sponsor America’s news?
A few harsh words about antidepressants probably won’t change the public’s mind about them. People may be briefly upset but will want to believe reassuring words by psychiatrists fronting for the drug lobby.
Recently, the education group Ablechild called for a Congressional investigation into the relationship between antidepressants and school violence. Congress is the only group powerful enough to overcome the objections of the drug lobby, which has two lobbyists for every member of Congress in Washington. It will take many ordinary citizens calling and writing to their members of Congress and the Senate to get this Congressional investigation. The question is, how many more Virginia Techs and Columbines is it going to take to convince enough people to do this?
Ernest Ryan, of Temperance, Mich., is a power engineer who said he has spent thousands of hours documenting and investigating the link between antidepressants and incidents of school and workplace violence.