When the media talks about Columbine, the Aurora theater, Lafayette or any other multiple murder event, they focus on only one commonality – the fact that the killer used a gun. They’ve missed a much more important common factor and this one can be fixed.
When people snap, they snap. They might drive an SUV into a university gathering area, run over victims with their car, kill 29 people with a knife, or use a gun. The common factor is no longer the weapon, it’s the violent mentally ill person behind the weapon.
It’s a point that Kenneth Cole tried to make, albeit poorly, with a billboard he leased.
He focused on mental illness as a whole, instead of the violent segment of those with psychological issues. While he took a beating for stigmatizing non-violent persons with mental health problems, he should also be castigated for having focused only on their access to guns. Their access to the public is the real problem.
The solution isn’t complicated. Those in the mental health profession need to be held more accountable for failing to treat, or when necessary, institutionalize the dangerously mentally ill. Simply prescribing drugs and having a 30 minute talk every week wasn’t enough for recent mass murderers – they needed to be separated from society.
When a medical doctor makes a mistake and someone gets hurt there are consequences. The doctor will likely face a law suit, possible loss of license and a real hit to their livelihood if their reputation is harmed. Why doesn’t the same thing happen when a mentally ill person who was treated by a professional goes off the rails and hurts somebody? If improper diagnosis or treatment ends in someone being harmed or killed, shouldn’t the mental health professional face malpractice suits at a minimum?
Our criminal justice system also needs to be rethought when considering violent offenders. If someone commits a violent crime of any type, they should be required to see a psycho-therapist until that mental health professional deems them healthy. It might only take an initial interview or it could end in institutionalization for those that present a danger to society.
Here’s a list compiled by Survival Questions that lists those on psychotropic drugs that turned violent. Why weren’t the mental health professionals that prescribed those drugs held liable? They certainly should have done more than just write a prescription. Many of these “patients” needed to be in a facility with locked doors:
- Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.
- Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
- Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
- Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
- Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.
- Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.
- Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
- Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.
- A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.
- Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..
- A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.
- Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.
- TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.
- Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.
- James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.
- Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania
- Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California
- Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
- Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.
- Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
- Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.
- Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
- Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.
- Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.
- Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.
- Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)
- Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,
- (Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself.)
- Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.
- Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.
- Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
- Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.
- A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.
- Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”
- Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
- Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
- Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
- Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
- Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school
Everyone with mental illness doesn’t need to be locked away. Some may not even need to have their second amendment rights suspended, but some need both.
Until mental health professionals are held accountable for failing to remove these threats from society, the mass violence will continue – with whatever weapon is closest when they snap.