Anti-Depressants and Violence

This anti-depressants and violence infographic explores the possible link between anti-depressant pills and mass killings.

Anti-Depressants and Violence infographic
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Anti-Depressants and Violence

Exploring the possible link between anti-depressant pills and mass killings

Discovery: A timeline of the most popular psychotropic drugs

  • 1958: Tofranil: the first “miracle” cure for depression
  • 1987: Prozac
  • 1990: Zolof
  • 1992: Paxil

Are we a Prozac Nation?

  • 1989: 2.5 million prescriptions for Prozac written
  • 1990: Annual sales of Prozac top $1 billion a year
  • 1992: 33.2 million scripts written

Linkage to Violence: Theory or Fact?

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In a scientific sampling that followed 25,000 people:

  • 1 in 250: Number of people taking Paxil or Prozac involved in a violent episode.
  • 14 million: Number of Paxil prescriptions written in 2011
  • 25.5 million: Number of Prozac prescriptions written in 2011
  • 158,000 incidents, potentially: if you accept the 1 in 250 number, it equates to possibly 158,000 anti-depressant drug-induced violent incidents
  • Between 2004 and 2012, there have been 14,773 reports to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects
  • These people were on anti-depressant pills and killed.

Examples of Recent Mass Killings

  • Laurie Dann (1988) Dann went on a shooting rampage in a second-grade classroom in IL, killing one child. She was on Anafranil.
  • Joseph T. Wesbecker (1989) 47-year-old Wesbecker, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine. He was on Prozac.
  • Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (1999) Columbine mass-killer Eric Harris was taking Luvox, a modern and widely prescribed Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs.
  • Larry Gene Ashbrook (1999) On Sept. 15, 1999, Ashbrook murdered seven people at a concert by Christian Rock group Forty Days at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Ashbrook was on Prozac.
  • Jeff Weise (2005) In 2005, 16-year-old Native American Weise, living on Minnesota’s Red Lake Indian Reservation, shot and killed nine people before killing himself. Weise was on Prozac.
  • Seung-Hui Cho (2007) Seung-Hui Cho was a Korean spree killer who killed 32 on April 16, 2007: the “Virginia Tech massacre.” Cho was on Prozac.
  • James Holmes (2012): Colorado movie theater shooter kills 12. He was on Zoloft.
  • Aaron Ybarra (2014) kills one at Seattle Pacific University. He was on Prozac at the time.

Anti-depressantsand Children

Fact: Justice Robert Heinrichs of the Manitoba Justice Department ruled that anti-depressants can cause children to be violent.

And yet, it must also be noted that most users of psychotropic drugs do not kill; but some do. Does the taking of psychotropic drugs contribute to mass murders?