Mass Shooting and Psychoactive Drugs

It happened again. On December 14th, 2012, Americans had to witness another tragic scene from a school where helpless little kids were killed at the hand of a sociopathic maniac. And, just like clockwork, calls for banning guns came from all directions. But guns have been a part of American society since its inception, yet these types of despicable mass shootings have only become a regular occurrence in the last twenty years. Why?

Could it be that more people are carrying guns or perhaps more people own guns illegally? But gun ownership has gone down the same time that violent mass shootings have increased.

Well, we still have too many guns. Other countries like Great Britain have outlawed guns and there are only a handful of firearm deaths per year there, whereas, the United States has over 10,000 a year. But Mexico also has outlawed guns and it has a higher rate of death by firearms (11.14 per 100,000) than the United States (9). On the other side of the argument, nearly every adult in Switzerland receives a firearm as part of their mandatory conscription service, yet their rate of firearm homicide is relatively non-existent compared to ours.

According to these numbers, the availability of guns and the legality of firearms is not what makes for a sociopathic, violent country in which people go on horrific rampages. There must be another reason why this is happening.

In the 2010 book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, the author details the negative psychological cycle caused by psychoactive drugs like Prozac (fluoxetine). Psychoactive drugs are mysterious chemicals that materially alter the brain’s physiology, sometimes reducing depression and psychotic behavior, but also causing adverse side effects and creating a dependence on the drug which makes withdrawal extremely troubling. Epidemic author Whitaker reveals that by 1990, so many people had suffered adverse effects from taking the pharmaceutical that a Prozac Survivors Group had been started and the European Union has banned Prozac outright due to the fact that

“Antidepressants increase suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among children and adolescents, and should not be used to treat depression.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has detailed the effects of antidepressants and other psychoactive drugs in a recent report. In it they show the long tragic list of horrible violence attributed to the drugs and the subsequent coverups.

So, psychoactive drugs have a history of inducing violence in patients, but specifically, have they played a part in the horrible tragedies at American schools? The truth is sometimes obscured because medical records are often sealed but in at least 66 cases of school violence, the assailant had been on or was in withdrawal from FDA-approved psychoactive drugs, including Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Newtown, Connecticut. Of course, it’s possible that these mentally ill people would have committed these atrocious crimes without the treatment, but we don’t know that. All that we know is that since these drugs have increased in popularity, so have mass school shootings.

As President Obama states, we have a duty to truly assess this epidemic of mass shootings but any earnest discussion must include analysis of psychoactive drugs and their effect on children and adults. Many question why guns are still legal. I wonder why psychoactive drugs are still legal.

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