We in Tucson know first-hand the horrible damage that can be caused by a mentally disturbed individual. What happened Jan. 8, 2011, was one of too many events where, usually, a middle- to upper-class white male has committed an evil act resulting multiple fatalities. These events have prompted a lot of debate about gun control and the need for mental health care.
But rarely noted in the debate raging on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC or in the local newspaper are two other contributors to these incidents: parents and prescription drugs.
Parents of these murderers helped make them the people they turned out to be. Even if they were good parents and happened to have children with mental issues, they did little to protect the public who paid the price later. Perhaps a little shame wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Parents rightfully should be praised when their children turn out to be a great student, humanitarian or athlete. It’s time parents are also held responsible for raising children who walk into a school or shopping center and murder fellow human beings.
As for prescription drugs, David Kupellian, author of “How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America,” has compiled a list of past perpetrators and the prescribed drugs they were taking, or coming off of, when they committed their horrible deeds:
• Eric Harris, 18, who with classmate Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 others in a 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado, was taking Luvox, a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Luvox manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals concedes that during short-term controlled clinical trials, 4 percent of children and youth taking Luvox – that’s 1 in 25 – developed mania, a dangerous and violence-prone mental derangement characterized by extreme excitement and delusion.
• Patrick Purdy, 25, who murdered five children and wounded 30 during a 1989 school-yard rampage in Stockton, Calif., had been on Amitriptyline, an antidepressant, as well as the antipsychotic drug Thorazine.
• Kip Kinkel, 15, who murdered his parents in 1998 and the next day went to his school, Thurston High in Springfield, Ore., and opened fire on his classmates, killing two and wounding 22 others, had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.
• Laurie Dann, 31, who in 1988 went on a shooting rampage in a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill., killing one child and wounding six, had been taking the antidepressant Anafranil as well as Lithium.
• Michael Carneal, 14, son of a prominent attorney who in late 1997 traveled to Heath High School in Paducah, Ky., and shot and killed three students and wounded another attending a prayer meeting in the school’s lobby, was reported to be on Ritalin.
• Jeff Weise, 16, who was living on Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota in 2005 when he shot and killed nine people and wounded five others before killing himself, had been taking Prozac.
• Joseph T. Wesbecker, 47, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., in 1989 a month after starting to take Prozac.
• Kurt Danysh, 18, shot his own father to death in 1996 in Brooklyn Township, Pa., a little more than two weeks after starting on Prozac. “I didn’t realize I did it until after it was done,” Danysh said afterward. “This might sound weird, but it felt like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding a gun.”
• John Hinckley, 25, who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 in Washington, D.C., took four Valium two hours before the shooting in which he wounded the president’s press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and policeman Thomas Delahanty.
• Andrea Yates, 36, who drowned her five children, ages 7 years to 6 months, in a bathtub in their Houston home in 2001 insisting inner voices commanded her to kill her children, had been taking the antidepressant Effexor. Four years later Effexor manufacturer Wyeth Pharmaceuticals added “homicidal ideation” to the drug’s list of “rare adverse events.”
The toxicology reports on the assailants in Tucson; Aurora, Colo.; and Sandy Hook, Conn., are yet to be be made public.
Gun shows and the National Rifle Association make convenient targets for politicians. But do they have the courage to go after big pharma and doctors?
Contact Chris DeSimone at firstname.lastname@example.org. DeSimone co-hosts “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM.