On the occasion of today’s 5-year remembrance of the July 20, 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 people and wounded 70 others, remember the chilling words of the shooter which foreshadowed the massacre: “Hatred unchecked,” “no fear of consequences.”
Then consider the events that led up to shooter James Holmes writing these ominous words in a personal notebook.
Holmes, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, contacted the campus mental health center for help with his obsessive thoughts of killing people and his anxiety in social situations.
The psychiatrist who met with him immediately prescribed psychiatric drugs linked to aggression, violence and homicide, including the SSRI antidepressant Zoloft.
Within weeks, Holmes had written an alarming series of statements in the notebook where he recorded his thoughts during his psychiatric treatment: “First appearance of mania occurs, not good mania. Anxiety and fear disappears. No more fear…. No fear of consequences… No more fear, hatred unchecked.”
Peter Breggin, M.D., a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who has been involved as an expert with a number of cases of mass murder, has written that “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.
“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.”
At least 34 research studies and 26 warnings issued by international drug regulatory authorities have warned about the dangers of SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft.
Zoloft is also on the list of the prescription drugs most associated with the incidents of violence that have been reported to the FDA, according to a 2010 study in the Public Library of Science ONE.
Only by fully investigating psychiatric drugs’ known links to violence and homicide can we hope to prevent such tragic bloodshed in the future.
Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue an antidepressant or any other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
If you or someone you know has become violent from taking an SSRI antidepressant 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.