Guns and Antidepressant Drugs: A Middle School Teacher’s Point of View

mental healthAllow me to preface this article by saying that the shootings in Connecticut are a travesty and my prayers go out to the community and family members who lost someone that day.  Is the solution banning guns?  I think one place to start is considering information regarding mental health.

First of all, the shooter was mentally ill.  This is the population I work with in public middle school, so am speaking from experience.  For some mentally challenged children who also have autism, every day is a new learning curve.  What I mean by that is that for a few students, we never know what the day will entail.  Will “Billy” (name changed) start cussing vile obscenities, and throw books or chairs for no apparent reason?  Will he have a meltdown because he wants a particular food for lunch and he’s not allowed that particular food item, clearing the room to ensure the safety of the other students?  Or will the day be calm with conversation, the student wanting hugs, and saying, “I love you”?

Bottom line, people with mental illness do not think rationally and in the case of the Connecticut shooting, it’s not the gun–it’s the shooter at fault.  (One can read daily about the murders taking place in inner cities and I’m pretty sure those guns are not registered – but that is for another article.)

In the past three years, I have personally known four people who were on anti-depressants and committed suicide.  One of my family members was prescribed anti-depressants for something that was not depression-related, but soon after started to have thoughts of suicide so they stopped taking the medication.  Thankfully the person had enough wits to realize that those thoughts were not normal and conducive to being in good mental health.

In Alabama, three of my nephews have gone to the doctor for such ailments as broken bones, weight loss, anything unrelated to mental illness, and each time they were prescribed anti-depressants.  Thankfully, they did not fill the prescription.

The question is why are the doctors prescribing antidepressants for almost every ailment?  Money perhaps?  (Another article…)

Regarding my mentally ill students in the classroom, yes, they need medication.  One of them takes an anti-psychotic medication and we’ve seen the person off the medicine–it is not a pretty sight.

Severely autistic people need help to keep themselves (and everyone around them) safe.  Their thinking is not rational and generally they are very literal in their thinking.

However, medication alone is not enough to help combat mental illness.   Yes, I understand the shooter was autistic, and I don’t know all the details about his illness but I do know that doctors frequently prescribe anti-depressants for autism to help treat and manage symptoms without instructions for behavior modification.

I am not saying we should just leave people with mental illness alone to suffer, but let us use common sense and look for treatments that do work without life-threatening side effects.

Many doctors prescribe antidepressants thinking the medication will help the patient.  Antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and, ideally, correct chemical imbalances in the brain.  Serotonin controls everything from appetite to mood swings, and is one of the most important biochemical in the brain, playing a vital role in the regulation of learning, mood, sleep and vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels).  People lacking in serotonin could suffer from compulsive eating, just being moody, or depression.

Prozac, Paxil, Luvox, and others are antidepressant drugs (SSRI’s).  The potential for some very serious side effects include thoughts of suicide, homicide, restlessness, aggression, facial and body tics, dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, sexual dysfunction, addiction, and electric-shock-like sensations in the brain. 

Remember Columbine? One of the shooters, Harris, was prescribed Luvox and it was in his system at the time of the shooting.

The Aurora shooter, Holmes, calmly told detectives he had taken 100mg of the prescription painkiller Vicodin, and identified himself as “The Joker”.    Side effects of Vicodin can include paranoia euphoria and hallucinations.

The following is a quote from Health And Nutrition Secrets by Russell L Blaylock MD, p79:

It is also interesting to note that in all the cases of school shootings, the kids responsible for the violence were taking SSRI medications, which are known to produce suicidal and homicidal ‘side effects.’ It is also known that these medications increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which, in high concentrations, can also act as an excitotoxin.

The attached link is a very lengthy compiled list of random murders/suicides directly associated with antidepressant drugs.   Please be sure to take a look; it’s daunting, to say the least.

Will banning guns solve the problem of random shootings?  No.  People will always find another method for killing—even if it means making their own guns.  The solution?  Perhaps looking into the use of and continuous dolling out of pharmaceuticals—but again, that is another article.


Barbara Cook

Barbara J. Cook (Cookie) is enjoying living in the panhandle of Florida educating special needs children in a middle school (ask her about it sometime!). In order to de-stress, Barbara runs, reads, and writes, and yes, she cooks too: (that's another reason she runs!) She lives with her Mr. Cookie and chickens, dogs, cats and various others. Growing up in Europe as a child and spending several years as a military wife, Cookie learned to appreciate and respect diversity in people choosing to live by the phrase, agree to disagree. What is important to Cookie is family, faith, and fun. Cookie is involved in PolitiChicks because she says 'if we don't, who will?' Visit her website at: and

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