A 12-Year-Old Boy, Another Psychiatric Drug and Another Deadly Shooting

32 school shootings and/or school related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in 164 wounded and 76 killed.

By Kelly Patricia O’Meara
May 14, 2014

It only took seven months to get the information that so many already surmised long before official investigations were made public—another child on psychiatric drugs going on a school shooting spree.

What’s new, though, in the case of 12-year-old school shooter, Jose Reyes, is that the investigators actually released the shooter’s psychiatric drug use. Too often this information is withheld from public consumption, making it difficult to collect data that may be useful in determining whether psychiatric drug use played a role in the violent act.

That psychiatric drugs, specifically, in this case, antidepressants, can cause abnormal behavior isn’t in question. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) long ago plastered “Black box” warnings on antidepressants, targeting children and adolescents for increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior and later increased the warning to include young adults up to age 24.

The investigation revealed that the Nevada seventh-grader had a generic version of Prozac (fluoxetine) in his system at the time of death, which like all antidepressants carries a lengthy list of possible adverse reactions, including hallucinations, irritability, agitation, hostility, aggressiveness and panic attacks to name a few.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that “Close monitoring is especially important during the first four weeks of treatment. SSRI medications usually have few side effects in children and adolescents, but for some unknown reasons, they may trigger agitation and abnormal behavior in certain individuals.” [emphasis added] The NIMH also report that, “…our knowledge of antidepressant treatments in youth, though growing substantially, is limited….”

32 school shootings and/or school related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in 164 wounded and 76 killed and these are only the cases where the information about psychiatric drug use has been made public. Six of those attacks were made by knife-wielding children.

Click image for a summary of ADHD drug warnings, studies and adverse reaction reports filed with the US FDA

Nearly 7.5 million children ages 6-17 are taking at least one psychiatric drug and researchers have identified 25 psychiatric drugs associated with violence, including physical assault and homicide.  Amphetamine and methylphenidate—psychiatric drugs used to “treat” ADHD—produce persistent biochemical abnormalities in the brain. A 2011 study found widespread brain atrophy in grown adults who had been diagnosed and “treated” for ADHD as children.

According to the FDA, despite decades of research, the approved labels for stimulants (drugs used to “treat” ADHD) remain required to state: “long-term effects… in children have not been well established.”

And, despite the overwhelming evidence of a connection between psychiatric drugs and violence, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the use of psychiatric drugs continues to increase. In 2010, more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written in the United States and, according to the CDC, prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S.

12-year-old Reyes and his victims aren’t just statistics. The seventh-grader is part of a growing list of children taking psychiatric drugs, inexplicably driven to violence. Ultimately, the responsibility for this tragedy lies in the hands of those who have the power, yet have failed to address the overwhelming data that the common denominator in these school shootings is psychiatric drugs.

The question is how many more school shootings, carried out by children on psychiatric drugs, will it take before lawmakers decide enough is enough? The weapon that can save lives rests in the hands of those who can hold hearings into the connection between psychiatric drugs and violence. It’s time to use it.

Kelly Patricia O’Meara is an award-winning former investigative reporter for the Washington Times’ Insight Magazine, penning dozens of articles exposing the fraud of psychiatric diagnosis and the dangers of the psychiatric drugs—including her ground-breaking 1999 cover story, “Guns & Doses,” exposing the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills that Kill. Prior to working as an investigative journalist, O’Meara spent sixteen years on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer to four Members of Congress. She holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Maryland.