Byline: Keith Hoeller , SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Another teenager has shot and murdered schoolchildren and mental health movement proponents have offered us the standard explanation and the usual solution. This child was mentally ill, we are told, and if only someone had seen the symptoms and notified mental health authorities, the child would have been accurately diagnosed, given the proper medication, and this tragedy could have been prevented.
If only the child had been placed on antidepressant medications, psychiatrists say, this murder/suicide would never have happened. The story is usually followed by calls for more mental health screening and treatment of schoolchildren.
However, in most cases of school shootings, the signs had been noticed, the child had been reported to mental health authorities, he had received a psychiatric diagnosis, he been put on psychiatric medications and was taking the medications when he pulled the trigger.
Eric Harris of Columbine was on the antidepressant Luvox and Kip Kinkel in Oregon was on Prozac. And the same was true in perhaps a dozen cases in all. And this may be the tip of the iceberg, since this information is often kept confidential and out of the papers, even when a murder occurs.
Now news reports indicate Jeff Weise, the murderer of 10 in Red Lake, Minn., had been suicidal and committed to a mental hospital. He began taking an antidepressant last summer, and his dosage had been increased a week before the shootings.
In 2003, Britain banned giving antidepressants to children and adolescents, and last year Health Canada issued a stern warning about these drugs: "There are clinical trial and post-marketing reports with SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants, in both pediatrics and adults, of severe agitation-type adverse events coupled with self-harm or harm to others."
This year the Food and Drug Administration has mandated a black box on antidepressants labels, warning of the potential for increasing suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and adolescents. Yet, as Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, has said:
"Journalists continue to be beguiled by speculative scientific hypotheticals which psychiatrists discuss as though they have been proven. …