Mental Health News: October 2017
Oct 18, 2017
On October 1, 2017 Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd at a Country music festival in Las Vegas. It was the worst mass shooting in American history, with 58 reported dead and hundreds more wounded—many of whom are still in hospital awaiting surgery or recovering from their injuries.
The recent tragedy in Las Vegas was, unfortunately, not the first mass shooting to send shockwaves throughout America and the world. Over the past several decades, mass shootings have, sadly, become a regular occurrence in the Global North. From Munich to Florida, disturbed individuals have killed and injured hundreds of people. But why? What drives people to commit these unspeakable acts?
One factor that is rarely discussed in both the mainstream media and among politicians is psychiatric drug-induced violence. It is too easy to label the perpetrator as an evil maniac with mental health problems without looking at the correlation between psychotropic drugs and violence. Professor David Healy of Cardiff University discusses the relationship between these medications and violent acts like suicide and homicide, noting how drug companies often hide studies that show a link between murder, self-harm and psychiatric drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are not obliged to publish all their studies, regardless of the outcome, and thus can sweep negative results “under the mat,” so to speak.
Harvard-trained psychiatrist and mental health advocate Dr. Peter Breggin also discusses the association between mass shootings and medications, as well as suicide. He recently reported that Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, was on a number of psychiatric medications, including benzodiazepines, which have a host of negative side-effects—something that is rarely discussed in the news, notwithstanding the fact that investigators and the public alike are baffled as to why this man would commit such a horrendous act before taking his own life.
That is not to say everyone who takes these medications will become violent-we should not fear or isolate people that are suffering from mental health disorders, since compassion and love have the power to heal mental issues. However, it is also unfair to demonise people that may have committed these acts as a result of their medications, whether we are talking about suicide or homicide. Indeed, ignoring the possible association between violence and psychotropic drugs will not help our society recover from or prevent tragedies like mass shootings.
The good news is that there is a real reason to hope, despite all the heartbreaks that have occurred. It is possible, with help, to withdraw from psychotropic medications before they cause long-term harm. Mad in America, an online community of mental health professionals, advocates, and individuals provide detailed resources on not only the current state of mental health treatment, but also guides to withdrawal and alternatives to drug treatment for mental health issues. The contributors at Mad in America, including David Healy and Peter Breggin, are outspoken critics of the drug-dominated treatment of mental illness, and are making strides in changing the way individuals and institutions define and treat people suffering from the vagaries of life.
Dr. Caroline Leaf's own experience as a clinical practioner has repeatedly shown that transforming the mind works wonders, which she has written down and recorded in her books, DVDs and online programs. People can be healed—there is indeed much to hope for!
**This is informative and NOT individual medical advice.
**DRUG WITHDRAWAL should ALWAYS be done under the supervision of a qualified professional. These drugs alter your brain chemistry, and withdrawal can be a difficult and painful process. There are thousands of patient-run sites on withdrawal from psychoactive substances on the Internet, and many books available in stores and online. We suggest you begin looking at the resources page on Mad in America or in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and Their Families. New York: Springer Pub. Co., 2013.
**For general information on the current state of psychiatry please visit Mad in America.
**If you or someone you know is being threatened with drug treatment please visit Psych Rights.
**To report any adverse psychotropic drug effects you have experienced, and for more detailed individual drug information, please visit Risk.