Mass shootings have unfortunately become a topic of everyday conversation in many parts of the world. That has in turn, given rise to questions concerning the mental state of the shooters. Drugs, particularly psychotropic ones, used mainly by those suffering from a mental condition have been closely related to those shootings episodes. Is there really a connection between psychotropic drugs and mass shooters?
Medication-induced violence is nowadays considered a really important issue and there are cases of a mass shooting that have involved a mass shooter being on psychotropic drugs. A well-known example is that of Eric Harris who killed 13 people back in 1999 in the Columbine High School. After his death, it was confirmed that he was receiving an antidepressant on a daily basis. A similar case made its appearance in 2013 when Aaron Alexis shot 12 people in a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. After his arrest, the authorities discovered that Alexis was taking both an antidepressant and a sedative for a long time. It is true that nowadays, the number of people suffering from mental diseases has increased considerably. In most cases, those people are being watched by a psychiatrist and receive proper treatment in the form of a psychotropic medication.
It is also, true that various studies have revealed that there is definitely a connection between this type of drug and feelings of aggression, mania, psychosis, and suicidal behavior. All of those feelings are a result of the medication itself, they are not part of the initial illness. For this reason, in most cases, those side effects go away when the result is withdrawn and typically reappear when the medication is resumed. As we can well understand, those aggressive feelings can make a person violent or further expand any homicidal instincts he may have.
Another concern about the connection of psychotropic drugs and mass shooters has to do with the number of mass shooters, involved particularly in school attacks who were under the prescription of a psychotropic drug. Whether they were receiving an antidepressant, antipsychotic, sedative or opioid at the time of the crisis or they had a long history of receiving such a type of drug and their condition had been deteriorated at the time of the attack, it is true that the majority of school attackers suffered from some type of mental disease.
Several studies have linked psychotropic drugs to acts of violence. A large 2016 study provided by the Nordic Cochrane Center explored the danger of developing some aggression feelings in adolescents taking antidepressants regularly. The study also, revealed that a relationship exists between the uptake of such medication and the development of feelings of agitation and restlessness. Those feelings can, in turn, create a violent response to even an insignificant stimulus.
It is true that the connection between psychotropic drugs and mass shootings has been investigated for many years. Various evidence and existing cases show that such a connection is more than possible. Therefore, it is really important to dig further into the whole issue and let the scientists explore the possibility that psychotropic drugs may contribute to a state of mind that can lead to massive assaults.