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KNIGHT: Psychotropic medications are the problem, not the answer

Society is too quick these days to allow our kids to be given psychotropic meds for all manner of behavioural issues like ADHD and the like.

This week saw two more mass shootings in the U.S. They seem to have become so commonplace that, though we are horrified at the loss of innocent life, we are to a point inured to the emotional devastation.  

The citizens in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are mourning loved ones who never came home. Unfortunately, there is the typical knee-jerk response to blame guns and the gun culture in the U.S. Worse still were those who called the National Rifle Association murderers. To my knowledge no member of the N.R.A has ever been involved in any mass murder event. 

I should also point out that the weapons used in both of these events were acquired legally. In all fifty states to purchase a weapon from a Federal Firearm Licensed dealer you must undergo a background check. This is federal law. 

The problem is the background check looks at only criminal record checks. Anyone with a felony on their record cannot legally purchase a gun. Issues of domestic violence or stalking also preclude anyone from legally obtaining a weapon. 

Canada’s laws are much more restrictive that those in the U.S. But we still see mass shootings in this country. On the surface of things that would seem to neutralize the gun control debate as it is relative to mass shootings. 

But there’s much more to this. 

A few years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut I was speaking with a federal law enforcement friend in the States. He sent me some information that was enlightening. 

This chart looks at school shootings in the U.S. over a 20 year period. 

WhatDrugDateWhere
School ShootingProzac WITHDRAWAL2008-02-15Illinois
School ShootingProzac Antidepressant2005-03-24Minnesota
School ShootingPaxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant2001-03-10Pennsylvania
School ShootingZoloft Antidepressant & ADHD Med2011-07-11Alabama
School ShootingZoloft Antidepressant1995-10-12South Carolina
School ShootingMed For Depression2009-03-13Germany
School Hostage SituationMed For Depression2010-12-15France
School Shooting PlotMed For Depression WITHDRAWAL2008-08-28Texas
School ShootingAnafranil Antidepressant1988-05-20Illinois
School ShootingLuvox/Zoloft Antidepressants1999-04-20Colorado
School StabbingsAntidepressants2001-06-09Japan
School ShootingAntidepressant WITHDRAWAL1998-05-21Oregon
School StabbingMed For Depression2011-10-25Washington
School ShootingAntidepressant2006-09-30Colorado
School Machete AttackMed for Depression2001-09-26Pennsylvania
School Shooting RelatedLuvox1993-07-23Florida
School Hostage SituationAntidepressant WITHDRAWAL2009-11-09New York
School ShootingAntidepressants1992-09-20Texas
School ShootingSSRI2010-02-19Finland
School Shooting ThreatMed for Depression*2004-10-19New Jersey
School ShootingAntidepressant?2007-04-18Virginia
School ShootingAntidepressant?2002-01-17Virginia
School Incident/BizarreZoloft*2010-08-22Australia
School/AssaultAntidepressant2009-11-04California
School ShootingProzac Antidepressant1992-01-30Michigan
School Shooting ThreatsCelexa Antidepressant2010-01-25Virginia
School Violence/MurderAntidepressants*1998-05-04New York
School Knifing/MurderMeds For Depression & ADHD2010-04-28Massachusetts
School StabbingWellbutrin2006-12-04Indiana
School ThreatAntidepressants2007-04-23Mississippi
School SuspensionLexapro Antidepressant2007-07-28Arkansas
School ShootingAntidepressant WITHDRAWAL2007-11-07Finland
School ShootingPaxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant2004-02-09New York
School ThreatProzac Antidepressant2008-01-25Washington
School Shooting PlotMed For Depression1998-12-01Wisconsin
School/AssaultZoloft Antidepressant2006-02-15Tennessee
School Shooting ThreatAntidepressant1999-04-16Idaho
School Hostage SituationPaxil & Effexor Antidepressants2001-04-15Washington
School Hostage SituationAntidepressant WITHDRAWAL2006-11-28North Carolina
School Knife AttackMed for Depression2006-12-06Indiana
School Massacre PlotProzac Withdrawal2011-02-23Virginia
School ShootingCelexa & Effexor Antidepressants2001-04-19California
School ShootingCelexa Antidepressant2006-08-30North Carolina
School ShootingMeds For Depression & ADHD2011-03-18South Carolina
School Shooting ThreatAntidepressant2003-05-31Michigan
School Stand-OffZoloft Antidepressant1998-04-13Idaho
School ShootingAntidepressant WITHDRAWAL2007-10-12Ohio

When, in every case you have the suspect being on some form of psychotropic medication it’s fair to say that may be the problem. 

Now, I don’t know whether the El Paso shooter or the Dayton, Ohio shooter were on some form of psychotropic meds, but given what I’ve read about both of them, I’d say it’s a good bet. 

Society is too quick these days to allow our kids to be given psychotropic meds for all manner of behavioural issues like ADHD and the like. It’s too easy to blame some condition or other to explain why little Johnny isn’t doing well at school and the medical community has over the course of time been too complacent and go along. 

When I was in school, lo those many years ago, if you weren’t paying attention in class you were as likely to get a cuff across the back of the head and told to sit straight and pay attention. 

I am not saying we need to return to corporal punishment in our schools. I am saying that the proliferation of prescribing psychotropic meds to our kids is wrong and we, as a society, need to do a better job and not rely on lazy or quick answers to problems that have always existed.  

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