The above headline caught my eye when I began researching this topic. The most frightening aspect of the recent rise in violent behavior involving the cold-blooded murder of groups of innocent people is the link to the discontinuation of prescribed anti-depressants. From Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook there is an undeniable connection of the assailant with a history of some form of mental illness and to the use of psychotropic, prescribed drugs. Anti-depressants or SSRIs -- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors - are frequently used in the treatment of depression and other mental disabilities. The young people who commit these massacres are often referred to as monsters. They can usually be classified as either psychotic, psychopathic or traumatized.
I have done some research on a few of the young men involved in these horrific crimes and found, according to available autopsies, some of them had abruptly stopped taking their medications -- SSRIs. Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech killings) had been diagnosed with severe anxiety, depression and selective mutism (a severe disorder inhibiting his speech). Eric Harris of the Columbine massacre had been taking Fluvoxamine. James Holmes, the young man suspected of the Aurora, Colorado "Dark Knight" movie theater killings graduated in the top 1% of his class and had been accepted to a PhD program. He had dropped out and there is speculation about the possibility of his having mental issues. He will go on trial sometime in June. Adam Lanza, accused of the Sandy Hook School murders is claimed to have had Aspergers -- an autistic spectrum disorder -- manly affecting behavior and speech. There is speculation about his mother having been concerned about his mental state. She apparently had warned a babysitter to never turn her back on the child.
I think we can also conclude about these young men that they were probably bullied or were made fun of by classmates. A few of these were suicidal and were said to be loners. In any case, if indeed they had been prescribed an anti-depressant, such a Prozac, and decided to stop taking the drug abruptly, it is possible that they suffered side effects. Abrupt cessation interferes with normal social functions and can cause severe impulsive and aggressive behavior.
Society is quick to blame access to guns and other firearms when these tragedies occur. What they are turning a blind eye to is the fact that there are so many children with mental disabilities aho are falling through the cracks. We need good psychologists and social workers to test our children and do something about behavior which raises a red flag. So many young children are taking prescription drugs for ADHD, diabetes and assorted ailments, but they must be monitored especially during transilitions and medical management. During a medication change everybody should try to enter a hospital or medical facility for close monitoring. Never abruptly stop taking any medication.
We tend to wonder about trends toward obesity and drug addiction nowadays. Is it any wonder that the two most powerful lobbyists in our nation are food and pharmaceuticals? I have written to President Obama asking specifically for a Children's Task Force in order to help prevent crimes and atrocities involving children. There are too many pedophiles, kidnappers, drug pushers and other menaces threatening our children today. I have emailed and called the White House to follow up. So far, there has been no response.