The number of mass shootings in America has increased significantly over the past few decades. People trying to explain this phenomenon blame gun laws, social media, and white nationalism. They also blame extremist politics, pandemic policy, and even extreme politics. What if there is another factor?
Guess what else has skyrocketed in the past few decades? Anti-depressant medication, particularly SSRIs, has seen a significant increase in popularity. The first selective serotonin reuptake inhibition, also known as an SSRI (or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), was created in 1987. It quickly became the standard. Its name is Prozac. Other SSRIs soon followed, and SSRIs now rank as the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in America.
These drugs can be quite effective depending on how you ask. Many users have reported remarkable improvements in mental health. Many people I know who use them report a lifting of the despair and depression that has been consuming their lives.
There’s another side to these antidepressants that you must consider. The FDA requires that all antidepressants have side effects printed on their labels.
Adult and pediatric patients treated for major depression have reported anxiety, agitation and panic attacks, insomnia, and hostility.
Every FDA warning label is a red flag that should be taken seriously. This one, however, seems particularly alarming. In 2006, the National Institutes of Health examined the SSRI-violence connection in judicial outcomes. They came to this conclusion.
Clinical trial data and pharmacovigilance data both point to possible connections between these drugs, and violent behavior. These legal cases resulted in a range of verdicts, which may have been influenced by different judicial processes. It appears that many jurisdictions have not considered the possibility of prescription drugs causing violence.
Another recent report from Sweden, 2020, reached a similar conclusion.
This study shows that SSRI treatment is associated with an increase in violent criminality among adults and adolescents. However, the risk seems to be limited to a small number of people. Previous research has not shown a link between SSRIs and violence in adults. This larger study confirms that there is a link in adults.
The most severe effect of SSRIs could be “emotional blunting” or detachment. People who have used SSRIs report feeling “not feeling” or “not caring”. This could explain why mass shooters can engage in horrible, evil behavior that many of us cannot even comprehend.
For example, terrorists are known to use drugs called “chemical courage” to avoid feeling pain, tiredness, and empathy.
Suicide bombers like Salman Abedi in Manchester are said to have been given drugs before being sent on their mission. This gives them red eyes and a distinct look of confusion. Terrorists are transformed into “unforgiving killing machines” by the drug.
Although these drugs are not SSRIs according to my knowledge, they still demonstrate what chemicals can do for the brain.
Alex Berenson, the Substack author, argues for cannabis. He points out that the Uvalde gunman was a known toker as were the Parkland shooter and Texas church murderer, and the Waukesha Christmas Parade killer. It is possible that many of these murderers were on other medications, including SSRIs. This toxic cocktail may have contributed to their psychosis. The vast majority of mass casualty murderers in recent years had been diagnosed with mental disorders, spent time in the mental healthcare system, and were most likely to have received anti-depressants and antipsychotic drugs. These medications are often combined with SSRIs.
Thought Catalog reports that 37 mass murderers were either taking medication at the time of their crimes or had just stopped taking their medications. The list includes Dylan Roof, the Charleston church killer Dylan Roof, one of Columbine’s shooters, the Virginia Tech gunman, and the Batman movie murderer. Although the source of this list is not provided by the author, I don’t believe it to be accurate. Why is this not a bigger story? Why don’t media giants report it?
Note: I discovered that Tucker Carlson actually brought up the subject during his show on Wednesday.
A frightening paper examining the role of antidepressant-induced homicide & suicide. This is a call to action for every medical professional to understand these risks & for all politicians & law enforcement to investigate role of ADP in mass shootings.https://t.co/bD4GUxHyhh
— Dr. Roger McFillin (@DrMcFillin) May 25, 2022
I am not arguing against SSRI medications being pulled from the market or that antidepressants are inherently bad. I am not an anti-medication advocate. Depression is a serious problem. However, medication has helped many people. Most of them don’t want to kill innocents. Instead, I wish there was a thorough study of this phenomenon, instead of the political screeching or inflammatory statements that are inevitable after such tragic events.
Caleb Owens, Psychreg’s writer, puts it best.
There is no simple solution to mass shootings. Violence, particularly random violence, is complex and reflects many thoughts, feelings, as well as external factors. It may not be possible to stop mass murders completely, but it is easy to forget that certain medications (including SSRIs) play a part in a large percentage of these violent acts.