Psychiatrist: Columbine and Aurora Theater Shooters Were Driven By Psychiatric Drugs

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A psychiatrist involved in the legal actions related to the shootings at Columbine High School and the Aurora Century theater has concluded that psychiatric drugs were the main contributing factor in both mass murders.

Peter Breggin, M.D., a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, has been involved in criminal and civil cases related to a number of mass murders.  He recently reported his conclusions concerning the role of psychiatric drugs in five mass murders, including the two worst in Colorado history.

We previously reported that Aurora theater shooter James Holmes experienced his first episode of mania after taking the antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline) prescribed by his psychiatrist, at which time he wrote in his journal that his hatred was unleashed.  Weeks later, Holmes went on the shooting rampage in which he killed 12 moviegoers and injured 70 others in July 2012.

We also previously reported that Eric Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts within weeks of starting on the antidepressant Zoloft.  He was then switched to another violence-linked antidepressant, Luvox, which he was taking at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in April 1998.

Zoloft and Luvox are in the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  To date, 26 warnings by international drug regulatory authorities and 34 studies have warned that the adverse effects of SSRIs include mania, aggression, suicide and violence.  Both Zoloft and Luvox are on a list of prescription drugs with the most incidents of violence reported to the FDA, according to a 2010 study published by the Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS One).

Without the SSRI antidepressant, Holmes “probably would not have committed mass murder”

In his recent report, Breggin makes this observation about the psychiatric treatment James Holmes received: “Given the [psychiatrist’s] concerns about [James Holmes’] psychotic thinking and his obviously violent tendencies, exposing Holmes to Zoloft was like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

Breggin says Holmes was on Zoloft for about 94 days before abruptly stopping around June 30, just 20 days before his deadly rampage.  But it was not the sudden withdrawal that brought on the violence, according to Breggin.

“An abrupt withdrawal might have worsened his condition, but the main contributing factor to the violence was his lengthy exposure to a drug that worsened his condition and drove him into psychosis,” he writes.  “He had a manic-like psychosis while taking the Zoloft and this would not have abated for some time after stopping the medication.”

Breggin’s conclusion: “I have no doubt that Zoloft contributed to Holmes’ escalating violence and that without it he probably would not have committed mass murder.”

Lengthy exposure to SSRI antidepressants brought on Eric Harris’ violence

Concerning Eric Harris, Breggin noted in his recent report that the Columbine shooter did not begin planning his violent assault until he had been on antidepressants for months.

Harris was switched to the SSRI antidepressant Luvox in April 1998, a year before the attack on Columbine High School, and the autopsy toxicology report confirmed it was still in his system at the time of the shooting.

Again, it was the lengthy exposure to Luvox that brought on Harris’ violence, according to Breggin, who noted that the writings in Harris’ journal “grew increasingly bizarre and violent over the period in which he continued to take increasing amounts of Luvox.”

Breggin states that psychiatrists not only failed to detect or prevent the violence perpetrated by Holmes and Harris, but “gave drugs that caused violence or amplified any pre-existing violent tendencies.”

Why are these drugs on the market?

Breggin points out that “careful scrutiny of the FDA testing for drug approval shows that antidepressants do not work any better than placebo, but that they do make many people very mentally disturbed and increase the rate of suicide and violence.”

“Why are these drugs on the market?” he asks.

Breggin concludes: “Curtailing or stopping the use of SSRIs and other antidepressants would vastly diminish an infinite number of aggressive and violent acts committed by individuals taking these drugs….”

If you or someone you know has experienced violent outcomes from taking SSRI antidepressants or any other psychiatric drug, please report it to the FDA by clicking here.  And we want to talk to you about your experience.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

The Aurora, Colorado Tragedy—Another Senseless Shooting, Another Psychotropic Drug?

As the world’s leading mental health watchdog, CCHR has for decades investigated hundreds of acts of senseless violence in coordination with the press and law enforcement as well as in legislative hearings, such as those held following the 1999 Columbine massacre (ringleader Eric Harris was found to be under the influence of the antidepressant Luvox, Dylan Klebold’s autopsy reports were never unsealed). And while there is never one simple explanation for what drives a human being to commit such unspeakable acts, all too often one common denominator has surfaced in hundreds of cases—prescribed psychotropic drugs which are documented to cause mania, psychosis, violence, suicide and in some cases, homicidal ideation.

 Between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence. These include 300 cases of homicide, nearly 3,000 cases of mania and over 7,000 cases of aggression. (Note: By the FDA’s own admission, only 1-10% of side effects are ever reported to the FDA, so the actual number of side effects occurring are most certainly higher.)

There have been 22 international drug regulatory warnings issued on psychiatric drugs causing violence, mania, hostility, aggression, psychosis, and other violent type reactions. These warnings have been issued in the United States, European Union, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

In determining what would prompt James Holmes, identified as the 24-year-old gunman in the Aurora, Colorado shooting, to commit such a brutal and senseless crime, the press must ask the right questions, including: What, if any, prescribed psychotropic drugs Holmes may have been on (or in withdrawal from).

Click here for more.

 

Columbine: A Permanent Reminder That Psychiatric Drugs Can Turn Kids Into Killers

The 13th anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, is a time to remember the real lesson of Columbine: psychiatric drugs can turn kids into killers.

Read more here.

 

 

 

 

The Real Lesson of Columbine: Psychiatric Drugs Induce Violence

Filmmaker Michael Moore Weighs In On Why Columbine Happened

On this 12-year anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, let us not forget the real lesson of Columbine:  psychiatric drugs induce violence.

Shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.  At least one public report exists of a friend of Klebold who witnessed Klebold taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft and urged him to come off them.  Officially, Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.

Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft are in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  Among the international regulatory agencies issuing warnings on these antidepressants, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in 2004 warning that “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia [severe restlessness], hypomania [abnormal excitement] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas] have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants.”  (For further information on international studies and warnings about antidepressants, go to CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.)

Luvox, Paxil and other antidepressants also made the top 10 list of violence-inducing prescription drugs in a report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, which was based on data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (see “Study Reveals Top Ten Violence-Inducing Prescription Drugs [– Eight Are Psychiatric Drugs]”).

Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare, is an expert consultant in cases like Columbine in which antidepressants are involved.

Dr. Tracy says the Columbine killers’ brains were awash in serotonin, the chemical which causes violence and aggression and triggers a sleep-walking disorder in which a person literally acts out their worst nightmare.  Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts “within weeks” after he began taking Zoloft, according to Dr. Tracy.  Due to his obsession with killing, Harris was switched to Luvox, which was in his system at the time of the shooting, according to his autopsy. However, the change from Zoloft to Luvox is like switching from Pepsi to Coke, Dr. Tracy said.

A growing number of school shootings and other shooting rampages were committed by individuals under the influence of, or in withdrawal from, psychiatric drugs known to cause mania, psychosis, violence and even homicide. Consider this list of 13 massacres over the past decade or so, resulting in 54 dead and 105 wounded – and these are just the ones where the psychiatric drugs are known. In other cases, medical records were sealed or autopsy reports not made public or, in some cases, toxicology tests were either not done to test for psychiatric drugs or not disclosed to the public. But this is what we do know about the mental health “treatment” of those who committed these acts of violence:

  • Dekalb, Illinois – February 14, 2008: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 16 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amount of Xanax in his system.
  • Omaha, Nebraska – December 5, 2007: 19-year-old Robert Hawkins killed eight people and wounded five before committing suicide in an Omaha mall. Hawkins’ friend told CNN that the gunman was on antidepressants, and autopsy results confirmed he was under the influence of the “anti-anxiety” drug Valium.
  • Jokela, Finland – November 7, 2007: 18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School in southern Finland, then committed suicide.
  • Cleveland, Ohio – October 10, 2007: 14-year-old Asa Coon stormed through his school with a gun in each hand, shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon had been placed on the antidepressant Trazodone.
  • Blacksburg, Virginia – April 16, 2007: 23-year-old Seung Hui Cho shot to death 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech, wounding 17 more, and then killing himself. He had received prior mental health treatment, however his mental health records remained sealed.
  • Red Lake, Minnesota – March 2005: 16-year-old Jeff Weise, on Prozac, shot and killed his grandparents, then went to his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation where he shot dead 7 students and a teacher, and wounded 7 before killing himself.
  • Greenbush, New York – February 2004: 16-year-old Jon Romano strolled into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Special education teacher Michael Bennett was hit in the leg. Romano had been taking “medication for depression”.
  • El Cajon, California – March 22, 2001: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, opened fire on his classmates, wounding three students and two teachers at Granite Hills High School.
  • Williamsport, Pennsylvania – March 7, 2001: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.
  • Conyers, Georgia – May 20, 1999: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with antidepressants when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.
  • Columbine, Colorado – April 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.
  • Notus, Idaho – April 16, 1999: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students. He was taking a prescribed SSRI antidepressant and Ritalin.
  • Springfield, Oregon – May 21, 1998: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 22. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac.

Filmmaker Michael Moore, who directed the documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” has said this, following his extensive look at the Columbine tragedy:

“In Bowling for Columbine,” we never really came up with the answer in terms of why this happened. I think we did a good job of exposing [that] all the reasons that were given were a bunch of B.S. ….And none of it really made any sense. That’s why I believe there should be an investigation in terms of what…prescribed pharmaceuticals these kids were on….

“It just would be shocking…to the millions of parents who prescribe this for their kids if it was finally explained to them, if this is the case, that this perhaps occurred for no other reason other than because of these prescriptions. “Imagine what that would do, imagine how people would totally re-think things – grasping for every little straw they can to explain why something like Columbine happens, when in fact it may be nothing more than this. How else do you explain two otherwise decent kids, very smart, no history of violence to other kids in the school – why them, why did this happen? It’s an extremely legitimate question to pose, and it demands an investigation.” (See the video clip of Michael Moore here.)

Given the growing list of shooters who were on psychiatric drugs, given the fact that 22 international drug regulatory agencies warn these drugs can cause violence, mania, psychosis, suicide and even homicide, and given the fact that a major study was just released confirming these drugs put people at greater risk of becoming violent, CCHR International asserts:  “Any recommendation for more mental health ‘treatment,’ which [inevitably] means putting more people and more kids on these [psychiatric] drugs, is not only negligent, but considering the possible repercussions, criminal.”

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, you can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.   We welcome your comments on this article below.