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Prescription Medications and Violence

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 14, 2013

The massacre at a Sandy Hook school last month rightfully raised America’s focus on the violence in our society.  While there is disagreement on the cause, the violence’s increasing ferocity, especially amongst our youth, troubles most Americans.

While it is reasonable that the tool of the Sandy Hook killings be a part of any discussion as to cause and ultimately corrective actions, is irresponsible to place nearly total blame on an inanimate object.  Guns of been a part of American culture since its earliest days.  However, American youths’ acting out in such violent behavior is a relatively modern phenomena.  Therefore, it is reasonable to look to other causes and issues including lack of discipline, inappropriate parenting, illegal drugs, violent media and video games, and yes, over-the-counter medications.

Rx_symbolWnd.com published an intriguing article titled “The Giant, Gaping Hole in Sandy Hook Reporting” that makes a superficial, but powerful, potential relationship between the increasing violence and increased use prescription psychiatric drugs that have become prevalent in recent decades.  Author David Kupelian reviews various horrific acts of violence and the perpetrators’ involvement with mental illness and psychotropic drugs including the following:

Laurie Dann – This 31-year-old woman killed one child and wounded sex in Winnetka, Illinois in 1988.  Dann was taking Anafranil, an antidepressant, as well as lithium.

Patrick Purdy – 1989 this 25-year-old murdered five and was on the antidepressant Amitriptyline, as well as the antipsychotic drug Thorazine.

Joseph T. Wesbecker – This 47-year-old shot 20 workers in Louisville, Kentucky in 1989.  He was taking Prozac with its manufacturer, Eli Lilly, subsequently settling a lawsuit with survivors.

Kurt Danysh – This 18-year-old killed his father in 1996, two weeks after starting Prozac.

Michael Carneal – 14-year-old Michael Carneal killed three in a school in Paducah Kentucky in 1997.  He was reportedly on Ritalin.

Kip Kinkel – This 15 killed his parents in 1998 in Springfield, Oregon, and then went to school killing two.  He was on Prozac and Ritalin.

Eric Harris – The Columbine killer was taking the Luvox, an antidepressant medication often referred to as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).  It is reported that Luvox has created mania and violent thought behavior in a small percentage of users.  All SSRIs today include an FDA warning of “increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior, known as suicidality,  in young adults ages 18 to 24.”  Harris, with Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher 1999.

Andrea Yates – In 2001 Yates drowned five of her children.  She was on the antidepressant Effexor.  Four years later its manufacturer Wyeth Pharmaceuticals add a warning to the medication indicating it may cause “homicidal ideation” in some patients.

Christopher Pittman – In 2001 this 12-year-old murdered his grandparents with a .410 shotgun.  He was on the Paxil and Zoloft.  Along with other adverse reactions listed on its FDA approved label are “mania, agitation, confusion, depression, paranoid reaction, psychosis, hostility”.

Jeff Weise – In 2005 this 16-year-old killed nine in Minnesota and was taking Prozac.


The tools used in the murderers are different, ranging from hands, to handguns, to a shotgun, and yes assault rifles.  There is, however, striking similarities.   All of the murders involve horrific acts of violence perpetrated against innocents.  In addition, a high majority of the perpetrators were on psychiatric medications.  Given this it is hard to understand why so many including President Obama are seemingly myopically focused on guns and specifically assault rifles.  Why isn’t similar focus pointed at the mental health industry and the purveyors of their medications?  At the very least this is the result of a rush to judgment.  More likely there are special interest groups whose financial well-being would be at risk if truly unbiased studies were made.

In conclusion, this post ends with a statement and question from author David Kupelian: “It has been more than three weeks since the shooting.  We know all about the guns he used, but what “medication” may he have used?


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