The increasing acts of senseless violence in our communities, exemplified so tragically by the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has left everyone deeply disturbed and demanding answers as well as solutions. But are the right questions being asked?
As we look for the best solutions and for ways to prevent further, similar events, which seem to have reached an alarming frequency across our country, it is imperative that we think outside the box. As usual when a tragedy, such as the recent spate of mass acts of violence occurs, there is a groundswell of support for increasing gun law restrictions. However, young men have had the legal authority to own firearms for nearly 250 years per the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, the issue of mass killings, often executed by troubled young men or teenagers, did not arise until the past 20 years or so.
The basic change in the dynamics of this phenomenon is the widespread distribution of psychotropic drugs.
This one possible aspect of violence in our communities is addressed in a report produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) titled “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide: School Shootings & Other Acts of Violence” which notes that more than 30 studies, drug regulatory agency warnings and expert opinion link psychotropic drugs to violent and suicidal behavior.
Of course, with millions of people taking such drugs, clearly not everyone will experience these reactions. But what drug regulatory agency warnings confirm is that a percentage of the population will.
Drug proponents or pharmaceutical companies with a vested interest in discounting this well-documented link may claim that “studies do not find an association between mental illness and violence or homicides, except for persons using illicit intoxicating substances or alcohol.”
And while it is correct that there’s no association between mental illness and violence or homicides, there have been no clinical drug trials conducted to establish violence as a side effect. Why? Because such experiments could not get approval by the Institutional Review Board. Instead, after a drug is FDA-approved, the drug is prescribed to thousands and adverse effects monitored over a long period. It is then that serious violent and suicidal adverse events are noticed.
What Do the Medical Experts Have to Say?
David Healy, a leading psychopharmacology expert and professor of psychiatry in Wales says, “Violence and other potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription drugs are medicine’s best kept secret.” Professor Healy, who has testified in cases where a psychotropic drug was blamed, in part, for the killing of a family says: “Legal systems are likely to continue to be faced with cases of violence associated with the use of psychotropic drugs, and it may fall to the courts to demand access to currently unavailable data. The problem is international and calls for an international response.”
David Kirschner, Ph.D., a New York forensic psychologist who has evaluated 30 teenage and young adult murderers, found that most had “been in ‘treatment’ and were using prescribed stimulant/amphetamine type drugs before and during the killing events. These medications did not prevent but instead contributed to the violence….” Dr. Kirschner advised that “despite ongoing congressional debates regarding stricter gun control laws vs. improved access to mental health treatment, our concern should be about the quality of mental health care, not just a societal safety net insuring treatment for all children and young adults.”
Proposed “Solutions” that could Exacerbate the Problem
The “solutions” proposed to address violence include mental health screening that oftentimes leads to prescriptions for psychotropic drugs that, in a percentage of those taking them, can cause the violent or suicidal behavior they’re supposed to prevent. One depression screening test had an 84% chance of incorrectly identifying students as suicidal.
Nationally it is estimated that more than $2 billion has been authorized and/or used for mental health and violence prevention programs in schools and foster care since 2014. This doesn’t include security equipment and services for education that reached $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017. Then there’s research that also doesn’t appear to have stemmed suicide or violence. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health, the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, spent $68 million on suicide alone and $2.7 billion on mental health.
There appears to be no cost-benefit analysis of or accountability for money already expended on mental health services in schools and what percent of students have been prescribed psychotropic drugs as a result.
What is the Solution?
While we all agree that providing a safe environment for schoolchildren is paramount, the role that psychotropic drugs may play in altering students’ behavior and mental state putting them and others at potential risk cannot be ignored.
Individuals who have been labeled as mentally ill face poor quality care and violations of their human rights This demands significant changes in the mental health industry. We cannot continue to throw money at this problem or continue to rely on a profession that has demonstrated no results.
CCHR is calling for an investigation into the link between psychotropic drugs and violence/suicide and what oversight exists for this; the introduction of a law or regulation that requires police and/or other appropriate agencies to report on certain crimes and suicides committed by a person who was using psychotropic drugs and focus placed on nutrition, health and alternative solutions to mental health.
About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, first brought psychiatric imprisonment to wide public notice: “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health,’” he wrote in March 1969.
Source: “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide: School Shootings & Other Acts of Violence”
Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida
109 North Fort Harrison Avenue