NEW YORK – If lawmakers and authorities are truly concerned about stopping gun violence in schools, they need to take a close look at the prescription of psychotropic drugs for children and young people, says a leading psychiatrist.
In an exclusive in-person interview in New York City with WND, London-based Dr. David Healy criticized pharmaceutical companies that have made billions of dollars marketing Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, known as SSRIs.
Psychotropic drugs “prescribed for school children cause violent behavior,” Healy stated.
The drugs are widely used in the U.S. as antidepressants by doctors working in the mental health field and increasingly by primary care doctors, he noted.
Healey insisted the problem today is that doctors working with schools to control the behavior of children are inclined to prescribe SSRI drugs without serious consideration of adverse consequences.
“The pharmaceutical companies made these drugs with the idea of making money,” he said. “There’s a wide range of problems when it comes to looking at these drugs for children. Very few children have serious problems that warrant treatment with pills that have the risks SSRI drugs have.”
The drugs can make children “aggressive and hostile,” he noted.
“Children taking SSRI drugs are more likely to harm or to injure other children at school,” said Healy. “The child may be made suicidal.
“We are giving drugs to children who are passing through critical development stages, and as a society we are really conducting a vast experiment and no one really knows what the outcome of that will be.”
Healey cautioned that there is a very high correlation between mass shootings and use of the drugs.
“When roughly nine out of every 10 cases in these school shootings and mass shootings involve these drugs being prescribed, then at least a significant proportion of these cases were either caused by the drugs or the drugs made a significant contribution to the problem,” he said.
President Obama, in a series of 23 presidential memoranda and proclamations signed last week, called for the Centers for Disease control to undertake research to examine gun violence and to explore medical means to control the problem.
WND contended that putting more mental illness screening into schools would actually increase the incidence of school shootings, not reduce the violence.
“You can draw a line between the number of child psychiatrists in the United States and the number of school shootings, and you will find that both have gone up in the same direction at the same time,” he said.
He sees a “propaganda campaign” being conducted in the U.S. in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., cinema shooting and the Newtown, Conn., school shooting asserting gun violence is being caused by mental illness and could be stopped by additional school programs that screen for it.
“If school children are screened for mental illness problems, this presumably will lead more medical doctors to put more students on more pills,” he said. “I would predict then the outcome of more school screenings for mental illness will be more mass killings, even if the guns are taken away and the mass killings are not done with guns.”
He cautioned shareholders of pharmaceutical companies to realize share prices can be adversely affected should judges and juries determine the companies bear legal liabilities. Law enforcement investigators could conclude one of the company’s medications was prescribed to a child who ended up perpetrating a school shooting.
Healy cautioned that medical doctors who prescribe pills do not necessarily cure mental illness problems.
Dr. David Healy
He argued that today medical doctors are inclined to solve a wide range of health problems by prescribing drugs. In previous generations, however, extended families were capable of providing a context of family history to understand behavioral problems and to identify a wide range of problem-solving treatments. The families understood the issue as a developmental problem better treated by family intervention than by medicine.
“Market research, for instance, has made pharmaceutical companies realize it is much harder to sell drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, in a home or a community where the child’s grandmother is likely to be present,” he explained. “Because, of course, the grandmother may say, ‘That kid doesn’t need pills. His father was just like him, and look, his father turned out alright.’ Medicine intervenes with pills when communities have lost their roots in families.”
Healy also expressed distress that information available to pharmaceutical companies exposing adverse side effects of SSRI medications is not made available to the public.
To solve this problem, Healy has created a website, RxISK.org, that allows the posting of personal experiences with SSRI drugs by people who have had personal experience or have had partners, parents, children or friends injured by them. These are people, the website says, “who have found themselves trapped in a Kafkaesque world when they have sought help from doctors, regulators, or others who seem to be there to help us”
The goal of RxISK.org is to create a database open to the public that provides a report a patient can take to a doctor or pharmacist to support and inform a conversation about the adverse sides of a particular SSRI drug.
Independently, a sortable database of 4,800 cases in which SSRI drugs have been associated with violent behavior in the U.S. and worldwide has been posted on the Internet, compiled from incidents that have appeared in the media, scientific journals and Federal Drug Administration testimony.
SSRI drugs covered in the sortable database include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Luvox (fluvoxamine).