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School shootings and prescription drugs

Posted: January 6, 2013 at 5:00 am   /   by

I confess that a potential link between mass shootings and prescription drug problems is not something I have researched in the past. It is a rather new area for me. The data below are not something that I present with surety, but rather with intellectual curiosity. Is there a link? Are we over-medicating our people, especially our children? Do certain medications have dangerous side effects for certain people? Can they trigger latent violent tendencies, or even cause people to commit acts of violence they otherwise would not?

This list, from SSRI stories, is at least worth examining:

What Drug Date         Where Additional
School Shooting Prozac WITHDRAWAL 2/15/08 Illinois ** 6 Dead: 15 Wounded: Perpetrator Was in Withdrawal from Med & Acting Erratically
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 3/24/05 Minnesota **10 Dead: 7 Wounded: Dosage Increased One Week before Rampage
School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 3/10/01 Pennsylvania **14 Year Old GIRL Shoots & Wounds Classmate at Catholic School
School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant & ADHD Med 7/11/11 Alabama **14 Year Old Kills Fellow Middle School Student
School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant 10/12/95 South Carolina **15 Year Old Shoots Two Teachers, Killing One: Then Kills Himself
School Shooting Med For Depression 3/13/09 Germany **16 Dead Including Shooter: Antidepressant Use: Shooter in Treatment For Depression
School Hostage Situation Med For Depression 12/15/10 France **17 Year Old with Sword Holds 20 Children & Teacher Hostage
School Shooting Plot Med For Depression WITHDRAWAL 8/28/08 Texas **18 Year Old Plots a Columbine School Attack
School Shooting Anafranil Antidepressant 5/20/88 Illinois **29 Year Old WOMAN Kills One Child: Wounds Five: Kills Self
School Shooting Luvox/Zoloft Antidepressants 4/20/99 Colorado **COLUMBINE: 15 Dead: 24 Wounded
School Stabbings Antidepressants 6/9/01 Japan **Eight Dead: 15 Wounded: Assailant Had Taken 10 Times his Normal Dose of Depression Med
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 5/21/98 Oregon **Four Dead: Twenty Injured
School Stabbing Med For Depression 10/25/11 Washington **Girl, 15, Stabs Two Girls in School Restroom: 1 Is In Critical Condition
School Shooting Antidepressant 9/30/06 Colorado **Man Assaults Girls: Kills One & Self
School Machete Attack Med for Depression 9/26/01 Pennsylvania **Man Attacks 11 Children & 3 Teachers at Elementary School
School Shooting Related Luvox 7/23/93 Florida **Man Commits Murder During Clinical Trial for Luvox: Same Drug as in COLUMBINE: Never Reported
School Hostage Situation Cymbalta Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 11/9/09 New York **Man With Gun Inside School Holds Principal Hostage
School Shooting Antidepressants 9/20/92 Texas **Man, Angry Over Daughter’s Report Card, Shoots 14 Rounds inside Elementary School
School Shooting SSRI 2/19/10 Finland **On Sept. 23, 2008 a Finnish Student Shot & Killed 9 Students Before Killing Himself
School Shooting Threat Med for Depression* 10/19/04 New Jersey **Over-Medicated Teen Brings Loaded Handguns to School
School Shooting Antidepressant? 4/18/07 Virginia **Possible SSRI Use: 33 Dead at Virginia Tech
School Shooting Antidepressant? 1/17/02 Virginia **Possible SSRI Withdrawal Mania: 3 Dead at Law School
School Incident/Bizarre Zoloft* 8/22/10 Australia **School Counselor Exhibits Bizarre Behavior: Became Manic On Zoloft
School/Assault Antidepressant 11/4/09 California **School Custodian Assaults Student & Principal: Had Manic Reaction From Depression Med
School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 1/30/92 Michigan **School Teacher Shoots & Kills His Superintendent at School
School Shooting Threats Celexa Antidepressant 1/25/10 Virginia **Senior in High School Theatens to Kill 4 Classmates: Facebook Involved: Bail Denied
School Violence/Murder Antidepressants* 5/4/98 New York **Sheriff’s Deputy Shoots his Wife in an Elementary School
School Knifing/Murder Meds For Depression & ADHD 4/28/10 Massachusetts **Sixteen Year Old Kills 15 Year Old in High School Bathroom in Sept. 2009
School Stabbing Wellbutrin 12/4/06 Indiana **Stabbing by 17 Year Old At High School: Charged with Attempted Murder
School Threat Antidepressants 4/23/07 Mississippi **Student Arrested for Making School Threat Over Internet
School Suspension Lexapro Antidepressant 7/28/07 Arkansas **Student Has 11 Incidents with Police During his 16 Months on Lexapro
School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 11/7/07 Finland **Student Kills 8: Wounds 10: Kills Self: High School in Finland
School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2/9/04 New York **Student Shoots Teacher in Leg at School
School Threat Prozac Antidepressant 1/25/08 Washington **Student Takes Loaded Shotgun & 3 Rifles to School Parking Lot: Plans Suicide
School Shooting Plot Med For Depression 12/1/98 Wisconsin **Teen Accused of Plotting to Gun Down Students at School
School/Assault Zoloft Antidepressant 2/15/06 Tennessee **Teen Attacks Teacher at School
School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 4/16/99 Idaho **Teen Fires Gun in School
School Hostage Situation Paxil & Effexor Antidepressants 4/15/01 Washington **Teen Holds Classmates Hostage with a Gun
School Hostage Situation Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 11/28/06 North Carolina **Teen Holds Teacher & Student Hostage with Gun
School Knife Attack Med for Depression 12/6/06 Indiana **Teen Knife Attacks Fellow Student
School Massacre Plot Prozac Withdrawal 2/23/11 Virginia **Teen Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison For Columbine Style Plot
School Shooting Celexa & Effexor Antidepressants 4/19/01 California **Teen Shoots at Classmates in School
School Shooting Celexa Antidepressant 8/30/06 North Carolina **Teen Shoots at Two Students: Kills his Father: Celexa Found Among his Personal Effects
School Shooting Meds For Depression & ADHD 3/18/11 South Carolina **Teen Shoots School Official: Pipe Bombs Found in Backpack
School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 5/31/03 Michigan **Teen Threatens School Shooting: Charge is Terrorism
School Stand-Off Zoloft Antidepressant 4/13/98 Idaho **Teen [14 Years Old] in School Holds Police At Bay: Fires Shots
School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 10/12/07 Ohio **Teen [14 Years Old] School Shooter Possibly on Antidepressants or In Withdrawal
School Threat Antidepressants 3/20/08 Indiana **Teen [16 Years Old] Brings Gun to School: There Is a Lockdown
School Suicide/Lockdown Med For Depression 2/20/08 Idaho **Teen [16 Years Old] Kills Self at High School: Lockdown by Police
School Threats Prozac Antidepressant 10/19/99 Florida **Teen [16 Years Old] Threatens Classmates With Knife & Fake Explosives
School Stabbing Med For Depression 2/29/08 Texas **Teen [17 Year Old GIRL] Stabs Friend & Principal at High School
School Hostage Situation Prozac/ Paxil Antidepressants 1/18/01 California **Teen [17 Years Old] Takes Girl Hostage at School: He is Killed by Police
School Knife Attack Treatment For Depression & Strattera 3/10/09 Belgium **Three Dead in School Day Care: Two Children & a Caregiver: Happened Jan 23, 2009
School Shooting Plot Antidepressants 9/22/09 England **Two English School Boys Plot to Blow Up High School
School Arson Incidents Paxil 4/12/02 Michigan **Unusual Personality Change on Paxil Caused 15 Year Old to Set Fires inside High School
School Bomb Threat Med For Depression 6/29/09 Australia **Vexed Father Makes Bomb Threat Against Elementary School
School Violence Antidepressant 11/19/05 Arizona **Violent 8 Year Old GIRL Handcuffed by Police at School
School Violence Celexa Antidepressant 1/23/02 Florida **Violent 8 Year-Old Boy Arrested At School
School Threat/Lockdown Lexapro* 4/18/08 California **Violent High School Student Shot to Death on Campus by Police
School / Child Endangerment Antidepressants 2/27/08 Canada **Wacky School Bus Driver Goes Berserk: Also Involved Painkillers
School Violence Paxil 10/23/04 Washington DC **Young Boy, 10 Year Old, Has Violent Incidents at School
School Threat Wellbutrin Antidepressant 4/24/07 Tennessee **Young Boy, 12, Threatens to Shoot Others at School
School Hostage Situation Med for Depression 3/9/06 France **Young Ex-Teacher Holds 21 Students Hostage
School Shooting/Suicide Celexa 10/7/02 Texas **Young Girl [13 Years Old] Kills Self at School With a Gun
School Hostage Situation Paxil 10/12/01 North Carolina **Young Man Holds Three People Hostage in Duke University President’s Office
School Murder Attempt Med For Depression 3/4/95 California **Young Woman Deliberately Hits 3 Kids with Her Car at Elementary School: Laughed During Attack
Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook


  1. Guest says:

    I have to admit that as I a teen I was very depressed and rather than talking to me I was sent to a child psychiatrist who put me on Paxil. Long story short it made everything worse and I was misdiagnosed. Ended up in a mental ward for an attempt on my own life that was nearly successful. After being taken off all the damn meds and just confided in a outside party about what i went through as a young child I was fine. All i needed was to actually talk to somebody who would not judge me. Antidepressedts for young teens can make things ten times worse than just having somebody who will listen to them. That is not to say that there are not those who need them but please when a kid says”this medication is making it worse” listen for cripes sake.

    1. Thank you for that perspective. My gut tells me that you are spot-on in every regard. Maybe there is a need in some cases, but we are massively over-medicating, with potentially dangerous results.

  2. GastonHidalgoCampusano says:

    The side effects of all these various drugs are even listed in the packaging; the medical dictionaries provided by some drug companies and of the Medical associations describe the side effects and likely symptoms that may show on persons taking the drugs; the research is done; the acknowledgement of the side effects is in writing, how come no one can make the link? I find it difficult to believe

    1. @GastonHidalgoCampusano Well, limiting gun ownership allows statists to exercise more control, which is, for the statist, a desirable aim. Limiting drug use isn’t as clear-cut in that regard.

  3. Guest says:

    This is very compelling, and I hope someone will pursue the research and present it. However, I hope it does not scare people away from taking medication. A lot of people really do need it. It is a catch 22, that’s why there needs to be more education around it.

    1. It’s a tough problem, to be sure, but I think some people are being medicated when they do not need to be. In fact, look below to another commenter who says that he was one of them.

      1. Guest says:

        @WesternFreePress I did read the post below, and I’m sure that happens to a lot of people. But I think we all agree that there are also many people who would benefit from psychiatric medication, without these deadly reactions. That’s why I’d advocate for education on mental health, for both consumers and professionals. Further research on the above connection between school shootings and meds could educate professionals on keeping a closer eye on higher risk patients, while consumers can educate themselves on options available to them, rather than shutting the door completely on taking meds.

        1. At first blush, that certainly sounds like a sensible plan.

  4. Truth says:

    It’s not guns its these drugs pushed by pharmaceutical companies! These types of tragedies rarely if ever occur in prior years for all of these pharmaceutical companies started pushing their drugs as a solution.

    1. @ Truth  On thing we didn’t yet check is whether anyone has done a list that also shows the shootings in which drugs were not involved, to see what the percentages are of each. Such a comparison would be very helpful in making a case. For example, if it is 5%, that’s not much, but if it’s 55%, that’s pretty striking.

  5. BradleahIssacJordan says:

    I am curious about the sources for the above information.  There is nothing cited as to where this information came from.  If this is something that can be analytically proven then we need to know.

    1. BradleahIssacJordan says:

      @BradleahIssacJordan Please disregard my above post.  It is early in my day and my coffee has yet to come into play.  I clicked the SSRI link above.  This is scary.  Especially after reading about John Noveske.

    2. @BradleahIssacJordan Groovy; I was just about to respond. I hear ya on the coffee thing :-)

  6. John says:

    Why does this article ignore the fact that people who commit such atrocities are very likely to be depressed or mentally off, which means they are more likely to be on medication to treat these problems?

    1. A reasonable question. In other words, it may be correlation but not causation. What we need are data on shootings where the person is mentally ill but not on medication. That would not be dispositive, but it would help . . .

  7. bpolarscam says:

    These “psych meds” made me feel crazy angry and wanting to kick some major ass, I think they called what those pills did to me a “psychotic episode”.

    That never happened ever before I tried those change your thinking psych pills.

    I thought my serotonin was low.

    1. bpolarscamHopefully the medical community will discover new ways of dealing with mental issues other than heavy medication. There has got to be a better way. In the meantime, if it were me, I would only go for meds as a last resort.

      1. bpolarscam says:

        My story could be on “SSRI Stories” 
        For starters, akathisia is a common side effect of psychiatric drugs, Some researchers and physicians believe that akathisia is the chief symptom that triggers impulsive violence in certain individuals who take psychiatric drugs.
        I believe it too. 

        The drugs can cause akathisia and make it impossible to relax besides screwing up peoples thinking . The two combine into psychotic rage.

        Anyway thanks for posting this list, contrary to popular belief these shootings are not the result of untreated mental illness .

        Look up:
        akathisia + violence

        akathisia + suicide

        1. bpolarscamWesternFreePresswhen you went off the meds, did the symptoms subside?

        2. bpolarscam says:

          WesternFreePress bpolarscam 
          I am o.k now, these pills can really screw a person up, “side” effects including suicidal thinking, not good.

        3. bpolarscam WesternFreePressVery glad you’re okay now!

School shootings and prescription drugs