It’s Time For A Serious Conversation

I used to play in a band with a guy, a keyboard player.  He was a bit of a prodigy; he’d been sent off from North Dakota to the Berklee College of Music in Boston; he was one of the most amazing keyboard players you’ve ever seen.

Of course, like a lot of prodigious talents, he had some issues.  He was bipolar.  The illness left him unable to function at Berklee, so it was back to North Dakota.  Psychiatrists put him on lithium – which enabled him to function.  To thrive, really – when he was on his meds and everything was well-tempered, he would practice, perform, put on recitals that’d stun the locals, play in bands, hold a job, function in society.

Then he’d feel he could function without the meds. He’d go off ’em…

…and, inside of a few weeks, wind up in the papers for having driven to Fargo and remodeled the inside of a Catholic church with a sledgehammer.  Followed by another bout of treatment, and then another course of lithium.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

He functioned about 95% of the time.  About 5%, he was incapacitated.  Was he a success story, or a failure?


Psychotropic medication has been a boon to many people.  They’ve helped pull back the gray fog on the lives of millions who suffer from depression.  They allow many with serious mental illnesses to function, and often thrive.

But as my keyboard-playing friend showed, there’s a downside; when the medication doesn’t work, or when the doses get changed, or abruptly stopped?  Bad things can happen.

As at least one Catholic church in Fargo discovered back in the early eighties.

And sometimes, much, much worse.

The site “SSRI Stories” – it stands for “Seratonin-Specific Re-Uptake Inhibitor”, a class of anti-depressants that includes Zoloft, Paxil and Wellbutrin among many others – catalogs crimes and other violent and bizarre incidents that have some link to psychotropic meds.   The stories on the site are open to some discussion – and there is discussion – and correlation doesn’t equal causation.  But the site chronicles a hell of a lot of correlation.

The list of school shootings alone is below the jump.  The incident at the Red Lake Reservation school seven years ago is on the list.  There’s much, much more there.

Speaking of correlations that don’t necessarily equal causation – is it any wonder the Psychiatric community is so hell-bent on calling gun crime a “public health issue?”  It’d sure be more convenient than addressing their own stake in violent crime, especially spree shootings, wouldn’t it?


School Shooting Luvox/Zoloft Antidepressants 1999-04-20 Colorado **COLUMBINE: 15 Dead: 24 Wounded
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 1992-01-30 Michigan **School Teacher Shoots & Kills His Superintendent at School
School Shooting Anafranil Antidepressant 1988-05-20 Illinois **29 Year Old WOMAN Kills One Child: Wounds Five: Kills Self
School Shooting Celexa & Effexor Antidepressants 2001-04-19 California **Teen Shoots at Classmates in School
School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2004-02-09 New York **Student Shoots Teacher in Leg at School
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 1998-05-21 Oregon **Four Dead: Twenty Injured
School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2001-03-10 Pennsylvania **14 Year Old GIRL Shoots & Wounds Classmate at Catholic School
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 2005-03-24 Minnesota **10 Dead: 7 Wounded: Dosage Increased One Week before Rampage
School Shooting Celexa Antidepressant 2006-08-30 North Carolina **Teen Shoots at Two Students: Kills his Father: Celexa Found Among his Personal Effects
School Shooting Antidepressant 2006-09-30 Colorado **Man Assaults Girls: Kills One & Self
School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant 1995-10-12 South Carolina **15 Year Old Shoots Two Teachers, Killing One: Then Kills Himself
School Shooting Antidepressants 1992-09-20 Texas **Man, Angry Over Daughter’s Report Card, Shoots 14 Rounds inside Elementary School
School Shooting Antidepressant? 2002-01-17 Virginia **Possible SSRI Withdrawal Mania: 3 Dead at Law School
School Shooting Antidepressant? 2007-04-18 Virginia **Possible SSRI Use: 33 Dead at Virginia Tech
School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2007-10-12 Ohio **Teen [14 Years Old] School Shooter Possibly on Antidepressants or In Withdrawal
School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2007-11-07 Finland **Student Kills 8: Wounds 10: Kills Self: High School in Finland
School Shooting Prozac WITHDRAWAL 2008-02-15 Illinois ** 6 Dead: 15 Wounded: Perpetrator Was in Withdrawal from Med & Acting Erratically
School Shooting Med For Depression 2009-03-13 Germany **16 Dead Including Shooter: Antidepressant Use: Shooter in Treatment For Depression
School Shooting SSRI 2010-02-19 Finland **On Sept. 23, 2008 a Finnish Student Shot & Killed 9 Students Before Killing Himself
School Shooting Meds For Depression & ADHD 2011-03-18 South Carolina **Teen Shoots School Official: Pipe Bombs Found in Backpack
School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant & ADHD Med 2011-07-11 Alabama **14 Year Old Kills Fellow Middle School Student
School Shooting Plot Med For Depression 1998-12-01 Wisconsin **Teen Accused of Plotting to Gun Down Students at School
School Shooting Plot Med For Depression WITHDRAWAL 2008-08-28 Texas **18 Year Old Plots a Columbine School Attack
School Shooting Plot Antidepressants 2009-09-22 England **Two English School Boys Plot to Blow Up High School
School Shooting Related Luvox 1993-07-23 Florida **Man Commits Murder During Clinical Trial for Luvox: Same Drug as in COLUMBINE: Never Reported
School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 2003-05-31 Michigan **Teen Threatens School Shooting: Charge is Terrorism
School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 1999-04-16 Idaho **Teen Fires Gun in School
School Shooting Threat Med for Depression* 2004-10-19 New Jersey **Over-Medicated Teen Brings Loaded Handguns to School
School Shooting Threats Celexa Antidepressant 2010-01-25 Virginia **Senior in High School Theatens to Kill 4 Classmates: Facebook Involved: Bail Denied
School Shooting/Suicide Celexa 2002-10-07 Texas **Young Girl [13 Years Old] Kills Self at School With a Gun

9 thoughts on “It’s Time For A Serious Conversation

  1. RE: “Seratonin Single Re-Uptake Inhibitor”
    it is more often referred to as:
    serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitor
    selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor

  2. Has it been verified that the killer has any mental health (MH) diagnosis? So far I heard autistic, personality disorder, Aspberger’s , no mental health issues, and his mother was worried that he might have some.

    I’ve heard so much incorrect information that I don’t think anyone with a rational mind could think of having a “conversation”: Enter, Joe Biden.

    Many of these medications are very helpful. However, side effects aside, they are very slow acting and can take weeks to become useful. Also, one side effect of some depressions is extreme lethargy and lack of motivation.

    Going back on meds can be a dangerous time for a person with a violent MH issue. As the meds build up, so does their motivation. However, the build-up may not have helped them mentally. So, they finally get the motivation to kill themselves, others, or hopefully only the sachristy of a church.

    “She went back on her meds last week” is not always a comforting statement to a first responder.

  3. Any news reporting of these incidents should include the meds the shooter was on, how long he was on them, and if they were acquired “legally” – just as they report the caliber of the guns used and the number of bullets.

    Of course, we don’t want to report on someone’s mental health – that would be an invasion of privacy and would unfairly stigmatize the vast majority of those who use these drugs without being a threat to anyone. We certainly wouldn’t want to stigmatize large groups of unthreatening people, would we?

  4. NW: reporting on any mental health/rX issues would likely violate HIPAA, so that’s another reason we will never hear about them unless they get illegally leaked.

  5. Joe, re: your 5:46, Clayton Cramer says Business Insider reported on December 18th (I know, double hearsay, best I can do) that Shooter was prescribed Fanapt (iloperiodne) which is generally prescribed for schizophrenia.

    Huffington Post reported yesterday a family friend said (there’s that double hearsay again) Mom was petitioning the court to have Shooter committed, which made him angry. HuffPo updates that report today to say the New York Daily Post says another friend of Mom says she did take Shooter to a shrink but was not planning a committment. A whole raft of sites claim Shooter’s childhood friend says Shooter put up a website of Satan worship.

    Nobody knows nuthin for sure and it’s all rumor, innuendo and hearsay.

  6. Thank you Nate.

    That’s the problem. There is still no concrete information, but everyone knows he was mentally ill.

    The media coverage of this tragedy should raise more questions about the first amendment that it should the second. Six hour into the event we all knew that:

    The suspect was the killer’s older brother. Mom was a beloved teacher who lived close to the school and the killer was allowed into the school based on his mother’s employment there. Mom was found killed in the school. The killer’s father was found murdered in NJ. The killer had all types of mental illnesses.

    There are probably more, but I got all this from the mainstream media while waiting in a hospital with a sick friend. After all, the first amendment was written back when the media only consisted of the town busy body with a primative mechanical printing press and a circulation of all those within walking distance.

    It is common sense that we now need government oversight to prevent innocent people from being falsely accused of crimes, grief caused by the incorrect reporting of the deaths of innocent people, libel/slander by the accusation of incorrect, but stigmatizing, mental health problems and lifestyles.

    Modern media can can target millions of subscribers in seconds with anything it chooses to send. It is far too easy for just anyone to claim journalistic credentials and engage in mass disinformation. Clearly now is the time for the government to enact common sense restrictions on those who abuse the first amendment.

    If it saves just one reader …

    The fact that the usual suspects are so eager to rapidly engage in all types of “remedies” is further proof that they are far more interested in the cure (draconian firearms restrictions) than they are in the “illness” (specific causes of this horrific event). Pretty solid evidence that the dead children and teachers are secondary to the long hoped-for goals of the anti-firearms lobby.

    Perhaps Nancy Pelosi could name Cindy Sheehan as the official intermediary between the victims and the government?

  7. It comes to mind that if we actually did some finding out what causes depression–it seems to correlate pretty well with broken families and dehumanizing institutions like public schools–we might be able to greatly reduce the fallout of SSRIs and/or depression without finding out which came first, no?

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