Citizens Commission on Human Rights
National Affairs Office
Washington, DC

CCHR calls for mandatory toxicology tests for perpetrators of horrific acts of violence to investigate the link to antidepressants or other drugs.

Recent mass shootings have led to calls for more access to mental health services, but increasing behavioral screening and treatment in recent years has not stopped the senseless acts of violence from becoming all too commonplace.  As a public health and public safety matter, answers are needed to the question of what is driving individuals to commit these horrific acts of violence at a pace the U.S. has never before experienced.

Many shootings have been linked to prior mental health treatment and programs in schools, detention centers and psychiatric facilities, and to the psychiatric drugs prescribed as treatment, most especially the newer generation antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).  The link between violence and psychiatric drugs must be investigated to understand this factor’s apparent role in the ongoing violence in America.

CCHR’s report, “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide,” details 60 cases of mass killing and violence committed by perpetrators who had been prescribed mind-altering psychiatric drugs as mental health treatment.

At a minimum, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International is calling for mandatory toxicology tests in every such deadly incident to determine what psychiatric or other prescription drug or illicit drug, if any, was involved.  Such information will reveal the extent to which these drugs are involved in mass killings and other senseless acts of violence.

CCHR issued its report, “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide,” in 2018, detailing 60 cases of high-profile violence committed by perpetrators of all ages who had been prescribed psychotropic drugs as mental health treatment.  There are more than 30 studies in which researchers have found mind-altering prescription drugs as the factor which potentially drove individuals to commit senseless acts of violence, and more studies are underway.  CCHR is currently producing an addendum to its report to include the mass violence since 2018 that has been linked to psychiatric drugs.

“Antidepressants double the risk of suicidality and violence.”
– Researcher Andreas Bielefeldt, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Denmark

Of nearly 410 international drug regulatory agency warnings about psychotropic drugs, 27 warn of violence, aggression, hostility, mania, psychosis or homicidal thoughts.

The FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System shows that 31 out of 484 prescription drugs are disproportionately associated with violence, 25 of which are psychiatric drugs. 

Antidepressants are the most prescribed class of psychiatric drugs.  Currently, over 45 million Americans are prescribed antidepressants, with about 800,000 of them children and teens under the age of 18.

The FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System shows that 31 out of 484 prescription drugs are disproportionately associated with violence, 25 of which are psychiatric drugs. 

Well-known side effects of SSRI antidepressants include nervousness, anxiety, agitation, agressiveness, impulsiveness, mania, and suicidal thoughts and actions. 

Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., describes antidepresssants as neurotoxic because they harm and disrupt the functions of the brain, causing abnormal thinking and behavior that includes the anxiety, aggressiveness, loss of judgment, impulsivity and mania that can lead to violence.  He adds that “the harmful mental and behavioral effects of antidepressants are especially prevalent and severe in children and youth.”

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who has studied SSRIs, said people who take antidepressants can “become very distraught. … They feel like jumping out of their skin. The irritability and impulsivity can make people suicidal or homicidal.”

In a 2016 study led by Andreas Bielefeldt at the Nordic Cochrane Centre, researchers conducted an extensive and systematic analysis of clinical trials in which SSRI and SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants were given to healthy adult volunteers with no signs of depression.  Their finding, published in the British Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2016, was that “antidepressants double the risk of suicidality and violence.”

Until an investigation is undertaken into the link between the increasing use of mind-altering psychiatric drugs and the growing number of acts of senseless violence, Americans may be denied the opportunity to find workable solutions to the real causes of the violence plaguing the nation.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an antidepressant or other behavioral drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.