Posted by: L | April 23, 2007

VTech – Psychiatric Drugs in Past School Shootings

Here is a partial list of recent school shootings caused by or linked to the use of psychiatric drugs:

“In eight recent school shootings, psychiatric drugs were the common factor, in other instances, the shooter’s medical records were never made public and their psychiatric drug use remains in question.

September 28, 2006: Bailey, Colorado: Duane Morrison, 53, entered Platte Canyon High School and shot and killed one girl, and sexually assaulted 6 others. Antidepressants were found in his vehicle.

March 21, 2005: Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota: 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac when he shot and killed nine people and wounding five before committing suicide.

April 10, 2001: Wahluke, Washington: 16-year-old Cory Baadsgaard took a rifle to his high school, and held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage while on a high dose of the antidepressant Effexor.

March 22, 2001: El Cajon, California: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman was on two antidepressants, Effexor and Celexa, when he opened fire at his California high school wounding five.

March 7, 2000: Williamsport, Pennsylvania: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was on the antidepressant Prozac when she blasted away at fellow students in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, wounding one.

May 20, 1999: Conyers, Georgia: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with a mix of antidepressants when he opened fire on and wounded 6 of his classmates.

April 20, 1999: Columbine, Colorado: 18-year-old Eric Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox when he and his partner Dylan Klebold killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 23 others before taking their own lives in the bloodiest school massacre to date. The coroner confirmed that the antidepressant was in his system through toxicology reports while Dylan Klebold’s autopsy was never made public.

April 16, 1999: Notus, Idaho: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school narrowly missing students; he was taking a mix of antidepressants.

May 21, 1998: Springfield, Oregon: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his own parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 22. Kinkel had been on Prozac.”

Here is the link to the report, “Psychiatric Drugs And Anger Management Curricula – A Perspective on School Violence,” by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. (I should point out something I didn’t realize at the time I posted, which is that the CCHR is connected to Scientology. I think the statistics are fairly reliable though. I will add another link to back this material from another source.

The report notes the following interesting statistics about the rise of school shooting.
1991-1996: FDA approval of selected SSI drugs (a class of antidepressants including Prozac and Zoloft) for adult use only.

1990-2005: 38% increase in pediatric use of stimulants that FDA claims cause psychosis, mania, aggression and (on withdrawal) suicidal ideation

1987-2002: 50o% under-18 use of anti-depressants

1974-2000 (1.4 school shootings a year, on average)

1988-2006 (2.5 school shootings a year, on average).

The rise in school shootings has been the rationale for the introduction of Immediate Action Rapid Deployment tactics into the police, especially after the 1999 Columbine shootings).

In turn, that coincides with the increasing militarization of the police in response to terror threats, most noticeably, of course, after 9/11.

The CCHR report above is especially persuasive when it argues that so-called anger-management and counseling approaches are fairly useless, distract from real problems and are mosly nothing more than an excuse for school administrators to claim that they are doing everything they can.

Indeed, at V-Tech we now have cries for further laws, policies and programs, even though it’s pretty clear that the laws and programs already in place have either not been implemented at all or have been implemented so poorly and without common sense that we might as well not have had them.

A plethora of laws also lets everone follow the rules (trivially) without paying attention to what those rules are supposed to foster.

In this case university administration, the mental health system and the police all, in effect, operated on their own, claiming to be responsible “thus far and no further,” and ultimately leaving absolutely no one responsible for seeing the whole process through, treating Cho, or – most importantly – protecting the students he lived with.

A legal and bureaucratic apparatus, in other words, can just as well let everyone off the hook as hold people accountable.

Actually, it seems that Virginia state has been zealous enough, turning in some 80,000 names of people who shouldn’t own guns to the FBI – it’s just that Cho’s was not on them. Why? Because Viriginia law denies guns to the “mentally defective” and those committed to a psychiatric institution – neither of which describes Cho.

So, the problem wasn’t any lack of laws. It was the lack of a common sense application of the law – charges not being pressed, records not being kept, lack of communication between various departments. There’s not much question to my mind that human error or negligence caused this disaster.

A further thought: even if drugs don’t show up in the blood, this report suggests that withdrawal from drugs could cause similar aggressive moods.

Another thought: in a manic mood, people do a number of things that would be implausible in a normal person. I am noting this since some bloggers are suggesting that the scenario of Cho killing 2 people, walking a couple of miles, and then killing 30 others all in about 2-21/2 hours is improbable.

Live Journal has a comment on the “More Gun Laws or Fewer Idiots,” piece, on which I have some dissenting thoughts, related to the drug issue:

” I think the gendered violence angle has so far been under-explored. This man was a documented stalker, and, at least at first, only targeted women. The perpetrators of all spree school shootings I’m aware of have been angry young men, more often than not targeting young women. In my opinion, the popular press chronically ignores this truism in favor of low-hanging culture targets. Male aggression and male socialization is probably the real issue here.”

I will comment on this later. It’s too far afield for me right now.

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