“With millions of people being prescribed psychiatric drugs, it is obvious that not everyone who takes them will experience violent reactions. However, there is ample evidence, given the 49 international drug regulatory agency warnings highlighting the potential for violence, that a percentage of them will.” – CCHR International
CCHR calls for federal investigation into psychiatric drugs’ link to senseless violence as report shows nearly a quarter of mass shooters had been prescribed psychiatric drugs.
By CCHR International
Mental Health Industry Watchdog
June 13, 2023
In light of the debate surrounding the association between psychiatric drugs and violence, mental health industry watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is once again calling for a comprehensive federal investigation to determine the extent of the correlation. The majority of the public may be unaware that The Violence Project, funded by the U.S. Justice Department, created a Mass Shooter Database, and that a 2021 analysis of the database by Voice of America, the state-owned news network of the United States, revealed that 23 percent of the mass shooters had been on psychiatric drugs.
The percentage is extremely relevant considering the researchers who compiled the database did not have full access to all of the perpetrators’ toxicology and medical records, only whatever information was publicly available. Toxicology reports, in particular, can frequently be withheld from the public, an issue that has often occurred with school shooters, as was the case of the Uvalde school shooter, when the Judge decided to seal his autopsy records, including his toxicology report. This is despite the fact that the shooter forfeited any right to privacy when he committed mass murder, and whether he was under the influence of a psychiatric drug (or any type of mind-altering drug) would of course be pertinent to any investigation.
It is important to note that the researchers responsible for the Mass Shooter Database did not attribute psychiatric drugs as the cause of these acts, nor should they have. Their role was simply to gather data points. The experts that would be qualified to analyze the data should be those psychopharmacologists and medical professionals that are free of vested interests, and experts in clinical trials and drug safety data, thereby allowing them to correlate information from the Mass Shooter Database alongside the drug safety warnings and clinical trials. Experts in the field of forensic toxicology should also be able to scrutinize toxicology results to ensure comprehensive screening was done to test for all classes of psychiatric drugs.
Another relevant factor of the Mass Shooter Database was the researchers specifically defined “mass shooter,” a term that can often conflate unrelated shootings under a single category, leading to skewed perceptions. The Violence Project utilized the Congressional Research Service’s definition of a mass public shooting as: “…a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms—not including the offender(s)—within one event, and at least some of the murders occurred in a public location or locations in close geographical proximity (e.g., a workplace, school, restaurant, or other public settings), and the murders are not attributable to any other underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstance (armed robbery, criminal competition, insurance fraud, argument, or romantic triangle).”
Further supporting these concerns, in a study published in Public Library of Science ONE in 2010, researchers analyzed data from the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and identified 31 out of 484 prescription drugs disproportionately associated with violence. Of these, 25 were psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, sedative/hypnotics, and drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The cases of violence linked to these drugs ranged from homicide and physical assaults to homicidal ideation and violence-related symptoms.
International drug regulatory agencies have also issued 49 warnings highlighting the potential for aggression, hostility, mania, psychosis, or even homicidal ideation as adverse reactions to these drugs.
On January 5, 2023, one such tragic incident unfolded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a 12-year-old girl fatally stabbed her 9-year-old brother inside their home. The mother reported that her daughter had recently exhibited unexplained anger while taking an ADHD drug. Tragically, the mother’s decision to discontinue the drug came too late, as her daughter had already carried out the violent act. In an interview with NewsNation, the mother expressed her belief that the drug played a role in her daughter’s actions, stating, “From what we found, it looks like it was a medication issue, not anything else.”
This is not an isolated incident. Numerous other acts of senseless violence have been associated with the use of psychiatric drugs. The available data suggest a concerning correlation between the use of these drugs and violence. CCHR has documented 39 incidents of school violence and another 64 other acts of senseless violence, all where the perpetrator was on, or withdrawing from, psychiatric drugs.
CCHR points out that with millions of people being prescribed psychiatric drugs, it is obvious that not everyone who takes them will experience violent reactions. However, there is ample evidence, given the international drug regulatory agency warnings, that a percentage of them will.
Given the mounting evidence, CCHR once again calls on the federal government to launch a thorough investigation into the potential link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence. It took the FDA 13 years to add a black box warning to antidepressants after holding hearings on SSRI-induced suicidality as far back as 1991. Those testifying at the FDA hearing also noted that antidepressants had caused themselves and/or loved ones to become violent. CCHR emphasizes the need for unbiased investigations, conducted by independent experts in psychopharmacology and clinical trials, to thoroughly examine the safety and efficacy of these psychiatric drugs.
Read CCHR International’s comprehensive report on psychiatric drugs causing violence here: https://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/violence-report.pdf
 “Mass Shooter Database,” The Violence Project, https://www.theviolenceproject.org/mass-shooter-database/; “Methodology,” The Violence Project, https://www.theviolenceproject.org/methodology/
 “Autopsies sealed in ongoing investigation,” Uvalde Leader News, 24 Nov. 2022, https://www.uvaldeleadernews.com/articles/autopsies-sealed-in-ongoing-investigation/
 Thomas J. Moore, Joseph Glenmullen, Curt D. Furbert, “Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others,” Public Library of Science ONE, Vol. 5, lss. 12, Dec. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002271/
 Nicole Acosta, “Okla. Girl, 12, Fatally Stabs 9-Year-Old Brother as Parent Slept Upstairs, Police Say,” People, 9 Jan. 2023, https://people.com/crime/okla-girl-fatally-stabs-brother-parent-slept-police/; Yaron Steinbuch, “Mom of preteen who fatally stabbed brother in ‘demonic’ rage says she was on ADHD meds, pulled her off them too late,” New York Post, 2 June 2023, https://nypost.com/2023/06/02/mom-of-girl-12-who-fatally-stabbed-brother-said-she-was-on-adhd-meds/amp/