Reflections on the Latest School Shooting: Can Anything Good Happen When You Mix Guns and Drugs?

Gary G. Kohls, MD

Well, the news cycle on the latest school shooting seems to have expired for most of the media, and we aren’t any closer to any real solutions to the multifaceted problem of mass shootings. The perennial taboo subject of psych drugs, which 90% of school shooters have been on, is again being ignored.
There are plenty of violence-promoting American industries (who happen to also be highly profitable) that should be taking their share of the blame as one of the multiple factors that create the “perfect storms” that result in “senseless” violence. And each industry and their multibillionaire corporations are ducking down, avoiding comment or else stepping aggressively to the microphone with well-thought-out disinformation campaigns designed to obscure their culpability, all the while pointing their accusing fingers everywhere else.
BigPsychiatry had any number of psychiatrists on the talk show circuit, acting unbiased and authoritative, but very ably deflecting any and all comments about the high likelihood that the often cavalierly-prescribed violence/suicide/homicide-inducing drugs could be contributing factors. One of those psychiatrists was Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, Chief of Psychiatry at Colombia University’s School of Medicine, who, during the last decade, was found guilty of having received, but not reported, millions of dollars from a variety of drug corporations. His latest corrected bio states that he received research grants or was on the advisory boards of many psychiatric drug manufacturers and marketers including this short list: GlaxoSmithKline; Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Merck; Novartis Pharmaceuticals; Pfizer; and Eli Lilly. He who pays the piper, calls the tune.
These multibillion dollar, multinational pharmaceutical corporations, who have more highly-paid lobbyists in DC than even the NRA, BigOil, BigAgribusiness, BigFood, the Pentagon or the videogaming industries,  have aggressively marketed, without long-term pre-marketing studies showing safety, the very psychotropic drugs that the school shooters listed farther below were either taking or withdrawing from at the time of the “senseless” shootings.
<<<Drones, artillery shells and AK-47s don’t kill people; people do>>>
The “drones/artillery shells/AK-47s don’t kill people; people do” National Rifle Association, in an act of cowardly silence, shut down their FaceBook account immediately following the semi-monthly, semi-automatic rifle shooting spree in New Town (probably to prevent the posting of hare-brained and damaging comments by its most irresponsible members). Then the NRA folks at the top huddled with their anonymous multibillionaire paymasters in the weapons industry to get their talking points straight. And then they developed the bizarre cover story about having 24/7 tax-supported armed guards at every school in the nation (how about, by using the same reasoning, every church, every theater, and every shopping center in the nation?).
That piece of ridiculous illogic was duly delivered, in an embarrassingly rambling press conference (where questions from journalists were not allowed!) by the NRA’s executive vice president and spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre (he of the $970,000 annual compensation package). To his credit, LaPierre appropriately cast some of the blame at the violent and addictive videogames, but he refused to acknowledge the truth of the situation, that guns, despite the oft-repeated and ridiculous slogan above, do indeed kill people, and the more lethal the guns are, the more they kill and the more gruesome are the deaths.
But nobody seemed willing to ask the question “What, if any, were the brain-altering, violence-inducing drugs that Adam Lanza took or was withdrawing from during his brief and tormented life?” And “what were the treatment modalities used on this troubled youth?”
As part of my frustration at the obvious suppression (or delay in reporting) of evidence of what psych drugs Adam Lanza and the other mass shooters of 2012 were taking, I include below some of the information that anybody interested in getting answers should know about and ponder.
In our society, there are many young, angry, white, friendless, isolated, bullied, humiliated, adrift, male videogamers who might be thinking of retaliation against a cruel and neglectful society. These boys do indeed need help. But what our dysfunctional, malnourished, American society needs to understand is that “help” in the mental health culture all too often means drugs rather than compassionate, caring counseling and good brain nutrition. It is almost reflexive for such patients to receive these relatively untested drugs which can be the tipping-point to” irrational” and out-of-character behaviors such as homicide and suicide and worsening mental symptoms.
Every thinking person intuitively knows that guns and drugs don’t mix. So we should all, particularly journalists and criminal investigators, be demanding an answer to that question. “What brain-altering psych meds was the Adam Lanza taking or withdrawing from?” And “what drugs, if any, were the other mass shooters of 2012  taking or withdrawing from?”
Here is a powerful poem that I ran across recently. The author initially wrote it after the Aurora shooting.
Which Pill Did He Take?
By Amy Marschak
Posted at:
As the sun is setting,
And the flags are flying at half mast,
Shrouding the tears from the twenty-seven who can cry no longer,
I have to ask,
Which pill did he take?
Was it red?
Was it blue?
Any pill,
Any pill at all,
To cover his pain,
Until his pain became rage,
Mixed with chemically induced mania, psychosis,
Stuffed inside one man,
Until it shot out of him,
In the form of bullets.
And pill pushers reaped the profits.
While the victims paid the price.
And so I must ask again,
Which pill did he take?
Was it red?
Was it blue?
But in the media there is silence….
And more silence…
And more silence…
Until these drugs,
Create murders once more.
And again,
After those
The sun will begin to set,
And the flags will be lowered to half mast, Shrouding the tears from those who can cry no longer,
And again, I will have to ask,
Which pill did they take?
And when will they tell us the truth?
Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter # 430
Substance-induced Psychotic Disorder (DSM IV 292.11) and Psychotic Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition (DSM IV 293.8x)
Excerpted from: Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders | 2003 | Hahn, Jennifer

Prominent psychotic symptoms (i.e., hallucinations and/or delusions) determined to be caused by the effects of a psychoactive substance is the primary feature of a substance-induced psychotic disorder. A substance may induce psychotic symptoms during intoxication (while the individual is under the influence of the drug) or during withdrawal (after an individual stops using the drug).
A substance-induced psychotic disorder is subtyped or categorized based on whether the prominent feature is delusions or hallucinations. Delusions are fixed, false beliefs. Hallucinations are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, or smelling things that are not there. In addition, the disorder is subtyped based on whether it began during intoxication on a substance or during withdrawal from a substance. A substance-induced psychotic disorder that begins during substance use can last as long as the drug is used. A substance-induced psychotic disorder that begins during withdrawal may first manifest up to four weeks after an individual stops using the substance.
A substance-induced psychotic disorder, by definition, is directly caused by the effects of drugs including alcohol, medications, and toxins. Psychotic symptoms can result from intoxication on alcohol, amphetamines (and related substances), cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, phencyclidine (PCP) and related substances, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics, and other or unknown substances.
Psychotic symptoms can also result from withdrawal from alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics, and other or unknown substances.
Medications that may induce psychotic symptoms include anesthetics and analgesics, anticholinergic agents, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, antihypertensive and cardiovascular medications, antimicrobial medications, anti-parkinsonian medications, chemotherapeutic agents, corticosteroids, gastrointestinal medications, muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, other over-the-counter medications, antidepressant medications, and disulfiram (Antabuse) .
Toxins that may induce psychotic symptoms include anticholinesterase, organophosphate insecticides, nerve gases, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and volatile substances (such as fuel or paint).
The speed of onset of psychotic symptoms varies depending on the type of substance. For example, using a lot of cocaine can produce psychotic symptoms within minutes. On the other hand, psychotic symptoms may result from alcohol use only after days or weeks of intensive use.
The type of psychotic symptoms also tends to vary according to the type of substance. For instance, auditory hallucinations (specifically, hearing voices), visual hallucinations, and tactile hallucinations are most common in an alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, whereas persecutory delusions and tactile hallucinations (especially formication) are commonly seen in a cocaine- or amphetamine-induced psychotic disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) notes that a diagnosis is made only when the psychotic symptoms are above and beyond what would be expected during intoxication or withdrawal and when the psychotic symptoms are severe. Following are criteria necessary for diagnosis of a substance-induced psychotic disorder as listed in the DSMIV-TR:
? Presence of prominent hallucinations or delusions.
? Hallucinations and/or delusions develop during, or within one month of, intoxication or withdrawal from a substance or medication known to cause psychotic symptoms.
Psychotic Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition - 293.8x

Excerpt from:
A variety of general medical conditions may cause psychotic symptoms, including neurological conditions (e.g., neoplasms (tumors), cerebrovascular disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, auditory or visual nerve injury or impairment, deafness, migraine, central nervous system infections), endocrine conditions (e.g., hyper- and hypothyroidism, hyper- and hypoparathyroidism, hyper- and hypoadrenocorticism), metabolic conditions (e.g., hypoxia, hypercarbia, hypoglycemia), fluid or electrolyte imbalances, hepatic or renal diseases, and autoimmune disorders with central nervous system involvement (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus). Those neurological conditions that involve subcortical structures or the temporal lobe are more commonly associated with delusions. The associated physical examination findings, laboratory findings, and patterns of prevalence or onset reflect the etiological general medical condition.
Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter # 422
A Short List of (pre-2012) School Shooters and Their Psych Drugs
Following is a short list of recent American school shooters and the brain-altering, spell-binding prescription drugs they were taking. These drugs are commonly referred to by their parents as their “I don’t give a damn” drugs. These drugs are known to diminish empathy, impulse control, creativity and cognitive ability. These drugs can cause mania and psychosis short-term and brain damage long term. Dependence on (ie, addiction to) the drugs commonly cause serious withdrawal symptoms that can also lead to serious side effects, including bizarre or atypical behaviors such as suicidality, homicidality and criminality and a craving to resume the drug, similar to what happens to people who are addicted to nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, opioids, SSRIs, benzodiazepines, Ritalin, Adderall or street drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, Ecstasy or dexedrine.
For thousands of more examples of acts of violence related to psychiatric drugs, including 50 more examples of drug-related school shootings (whose drug connections were revealed in the media), check out
On the site, you can read about the 70 examples of psych drug-related road rage, and hundreds of examples of psych drug-related soldier suicides, veteran suicides, murders/suicides, workplace violence, bizarre celebrity behaviors, etc.

* Jeff Weise, age 16, was taking 60 mg of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
* Eric Harris, age 18, was on Luvox when he killed twelve classmates and a teacher in Littleton, Colorado. Both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot themselves. 15 dead, 23 wounded. Klebold’s medical records were sealed.
* Kip Kinkel, age 15, was withdrawing from Prozac when he shot 22 classmates and both his parents.
* Shawn Cooper, age 15, was taking Ritalin when he fired a shotgun at school.
* Elizabeth Bush, age 14, was on Prozac when she shot at fellow students in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, wounding one.
* Mitchell Johnson, age 13, was taking an unspecified psych drug when he shot at fellow students in Jonesboro, Arkansas. 5 dead, many others wounded.
* T.J. Solomon, age 15, was taking Ritalin when he shot six classmates in Conyers, Georgia.
* Jason Hoffman, age 18, was on Effexor and Celexa when he wounded five students at his Granite Hills high school, El Cajon, California.
* Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, was on Paxil (which he said caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

* Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 16 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. He had recently been
taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien.

* Robert Hawkins, age 19, killed eight people and wounded five before committing suicide in an Omaha mall. He had been on antidepressants and Valium.

* Asa Coon, age 14, shot and wounded four students at his school before taking his own life. He was on the antidepressant Trazodone.

* Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter in the Virginia Tech Massacre in which 33 were killed and 29 were injured, was on an antidepressant pill but neither his toxicology reports nor his recent medical history were ever released to the public.

* Jon Romano, age 16, shot a teacher with a shotgun. He had been taking “medication for depression”.