As the country reels in the wake of another tragic shooting, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, a mental health industry watchdog joins in sending condolences to the families of lost children and teachers. And, like many others, it questions what could have triggered the mindset of an alleged killer, an issue that needs responding to if we are to truly face preventing more such tragedies and to provide grieving families and the nation with answers.
Media quote experts saying that such individuals are “mentally disturbed,” or have “untreated mental illness,” but that doesn’t explain the level of violence we are seeing or what drives a person to pull a trigger. At the very minimum, CCHR says, mandatory toxicology tests should be required in each investigation of a deadly incident to determine if any prescription or illicit drug use was implicated. This especially so as today, most psychotropic drugs can be purchased from rogue online pharmacies, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Prescription psychotropic drugs are also abused by students, with an estimated up to 20% of college students abusing prescription stimulants alone.
A review of scientific literature published in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry regarding the “astonishing rate” of mental illness over the past 50 years revealed that it’s not “mental illness” linked to increased acts of violence, but the psychiatric drugs prescribed to treat it. “There is no evidence the shooter is mentally ill,” the director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at the Northwestern University School of Medicine said in relation to the current shooting.
CCHR says the country’s mental health system has failed to prevent violence and investing more in it is likely contributing to the problem. Texas already has a projected $8.1 billion budget for mental health services.
Listing 20 high profile mass killings since the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999, or 19 since 2007, including two mass shootings in May this year, CCHR found that in 85% of the cases (17 of 20) or 89% since 2007, there was a potential history of mental health services delivered or current taking of or withdrawal from prescription psychotropic drugs involved. In only several of the cases was a toxicology report mentioned.
Yet, the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System reports at least 25 psychotropic drugs that are disproportionately associated with violence, including antidepressants, tranquilizers and sedatives. Specific cases of violence included: homicide, physical assaults, physical abuse, homicidal ideation, and cases described as violence-related symptoms.
Experts have consistently raised concerns about this:
— “The irritability and impulsivity” from antidepressants, for example, “can make people suicidal or homicidal.” – Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen
— “The link between antidepressants and violence, including suicide and homicide, is well established.” – Patrick D. Hahn, affiliate professor of biology at Loyola University Maryland
The current Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas raises questions on why the alleged shooter experienced sudden behavior changes. No toxicology test has been done to determine if he’d acquired or had taken any psychotropic substance–licit or illicit. It is unclear what social services he may have undergone given the number of police visits to his home. He apparently had a history of being “the nicest kid, the shyest kid,” but was bullied for stuttering and his behavior had apparently recently begun to deteriorate.
In the wake of the Sante Fe High School shooting in 2018 that left nine students and a teacher dead, every Texas district is required to have a behavioral threat assessment team tasked with preventing horrific acts like the Uvalde shooting at local schools. Apparently, to no avail.
Unfortunately, like mental health services, such assessment is not based on science, but mostly conjecture and such an inexact “science” if relied upon, means prediction can be futile. In the sample of 20 cases, it was unclear how many may have been involved in social media well in advance of the act of mass violence. One “Big Brother” “preventive” program in the U.S. boasts scanning billions of social media posts for indications of harm and violence, and relays messages in near-real time to safety and security professionals. But serious acts of violence continue.
No amount of money expended on mental health services could have prevented what occurred in Texas, especially when it omits investigations into any complicit role of psychotropic substances. The 2022-23 Texas budget has a projected $8.1 billion for mental health services.
Drug proponents argue that there are many shootings and acts of violence that have not been correlated to psychiatric drugs, but that is exactly the point. It has neither been confirmed nor refuted, as law enforcement is not required to investigate or report on prescribed drugs linked to violence, and media rarely pose the question. This is one reason why compulsory toxicology testing should occur as part of investigations into acts of violence and a record kept of any drugs found and added to all databases on acts of mass violence.
Read CCHR’s comprehensive report, Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide
 “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America,” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 7, No. I, Spring 2005, pt.cchr.org/sites/default/files/Anatomy_of_an_Epidemic_Psychiatric_Drugs_Rise_of_Mental_Illness.pdf
 Patrick D. Hahn, “Antidepressants: a deadly treatment?,” Baltimore Sun, 11 Apr. 2015, www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/bs-ed-antidepressants-violence-20150411-story.html
 “Texas gunman left home after fight with mom about Wi-Fi, mother’s boyfriend says,” NBC News, 25 May 2022, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-gunman-left-home-fight-mom-wi-fi-mothers-boyfriend-says-rcna30495
 “Texas Senate approves new school safety bill after Santa Fe shooting,” KBTX, 30 Apr. 2019, www.kbtx.com/content/news/Texas-Senate-approves-new-school-safety-bill-after-Santa-Fe-shooting-509288641.html; Jennifer Sanders, “Central Texas school safety: Threat assessment teams,” KXAN, 25 May 2022, www.kxan.com/news/education/central-texas-school-safety-threat-assessment-teams/
 www.securitymagazine.com/authors/2396-gary-margolis; live.socialsentinel.com/privacy; www.wbtv.com/story/37527785/company-social-sentinel-used-to-track-online-dangers/
Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Ahmedabad Local journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.