How Strong is the Correlation between Psychiatric Drugs and Mass Shootings?

From Anthony J. Gockowski’s “What Aristotle and Psychiatric Drugs Reveal about the Charleston Shooting”:

Take a look at a few of the well-known instances of mass shootings and murders in America:

  • Adam Lanza killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut after he was prescribed several psychiatric drugs, including Fanapt, a controversial anti-psychotic.
  • James Holmes killed 12 and wounded 58 in the July 20 tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Police found medications in his apartment, including sedatives and the anti-anxiety medication clonazepam. They also found sertraline, a generic form of the antidepressant Zoloft.
  • Jeff Weise, culprit of the 2005 Red Lake High School shootings, had been taking large amounts of antidepressants.
  • Eric Harris, in one of the most well known shootings, killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Harris was taking Luvox for obsessive-compulsive disorder, which a study done by Solvay Pharmaceuticals showed to be conducive to mental derangement. 1 in 25 children in the study developed mania, a belligerent excitement characterized by delusion and hysteria.
  • Andrea Yates, in one of the most tragic crimes in modern history, drowned all five of her children in a family bathtub on June 20, 2001. Yates had been taking large amounts of the antidepressant Effexor, which was later shown to induce homicidal ideation. She suffered from severe postpartum depression.
  • Christopher Pittman murdered his grandparents at the age of 12 and set fire to their house on November 28, 2001. Doctors had Pittman on both Paxil and Zoloft up until the day of the murder. Paxil’s known side effects, according to the FDA, are “mania,” “insomnia,” “agitation,” “psychosis,” “hostility,” and “delirium.”
  • Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 17 others on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University on April 16, 2007. The attack is the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. Cho had previously been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and was ordered to attend treatment.

Roof fits neatly at the top of this list. Roof was arrested a few months before the massacre for possessing suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction. He didn’t have a prescription for the drug and told officials he came by the drug illegally, which is probably connected to some sort of abuse of the drug. According to The Associated Press, Roof struggled with depression, regularly abused alcohol, and expressed frustration over his parents’ divorce.


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