97.8% of Mass Shootings Are Linked to This

Do Psychiatric Meds and War Games Lead to Mass Shootings?


  • While many have bought into the simplistic idea that availability of firearms is the cause of mass shootings, a number of experts have pointed out a more uncomfortable truth, which is that mass shootings are far more likely the result of how we’ve been mistreating mental illness, depression and behavioral problems
  • Gun control legislation has shown that law-abiding Americans who own guns are not the problem, because the more gun control laws that have been passed, the more mass shootings have occurred
  • 97.8% of mass shootings occur in “gun-free zones,” as the perpetrators know legally armed citizens won’t be there to stop them
  • Depression per se rarely results in violence. Only after antidepressants became commonplace did mass shootings really take off, and many mass shooters have been shown to be on antidepressants
  • Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are well-known for their ability to cause suicidal and homicidal ideation and violence

While many have bought into the simplistic idea that availability of firearms is the cause of mass shootings, a number of experts have pointed out a more uncomfortable truth, which is that mass shootings are far more likely the result of how we’ve been mistreating mental illness, depression and behavioral problems.

An article written by Molly Carter, initially published on ammo.com at an unknown date1 and subsequently republished by The Libertarian Institute in May 2019,2 and psychreg.org in late January 2021,3 noted:

“According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a mass murder occurs when at least four people are murdered, not including the shooter … during a single incident …

Seemingly every time a mass shooting occurs … the anti-gun media and politicians have a knee-jerk response — they blame the tragedy solely on the tool used, namely firearms, and focus all of their proposed ‘solutions’ on more laws, ignoring that the murderer already broke numerous laws when they committed their atrocity.

Facts matter when addressing such an emotionally charged topic, and more gun control legislation has shown that law-abiding Americans who own guns are NOT the problem. Consider the following: The more gun control laws that are passed, the more mass murders have occurred.

Whether or not this is correlation or causation is debatable. What is not debatable is that this sick phenomenon of mass murderers targeting ‘gun-free zones,’ where they know civilian carry isn’t available to law-abiding Americans, is happening.

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center,4 97.8% of public shootings occur in ‘gun-free zones’ – and ‘gun-free zones’ are the epitome of the core philosophical tenet of gun control, that laws are all the defense one needs against violence …

This debate leads them away from the elephant in the room and one of the real issues behind mass shootings — mental health and prescription drugs.

Ignoring what’s going on in the heads of these psychopaths not only allows mass shootings to continue, it leads to misguided gun control laws that violate the Second Amendment and negate the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens.

As Jeff Snyder put it in The Washington Times: ‘But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.’”

The Elephant in the Room: Antidepressants

Thoughts, emotions and a variety of environmental factors play into the manifestation of violence, but mental illness by itself cannot account for the massive rise in mass murder — unless you include antidepressants in the equation. Yet even when mental health does enter the mass shooter discussion, the issue of antidepressants, specifically, is rarely mentioned.

The fact is, depression per se rarely results in violence. Only after antidepressants became commonplace did mass shootings take off, and many mass shooters have been shown to be on antidepressants.

Prozac, released in 1987, was the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to be approved for depression and anxiety. Only two years earlier, direct-to-consumer advertising had been legalized. In the mid-1990s, the Food and Drug Administration loosened regulations, direct-to-consumer ads for SSRIs exploded and, with it, prescriptions for SSRIs.

In 1989, just two years after Prozac came to market, Joseph Wesbecker shot 20 of his coworkers, killing nine. He had been on Prozac for one month, and the survivors of the drug-induced attack sued Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac. Since then, antidepressant use and mass shootings have both risen, more or less in tandem.

In the two decades between 1988 and 2008, antidepressant use in the U.S. rose by 400%,5 and by 2010, 11% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 were on an antidepressant prescription.6

In 1982, pre-Prozac, there was one mass shooting in the U.S.7 In 1984, there were two incidents and in 1986 — the year Prozac was released — there was one. One to three mass shootings per year remained the norm up until 1999, when it jumped to five.

How can we possibly ignore the connection between rampant use of drugs known to directly cause violent behavior and the rise in mass shootings?

Another jump took place in 2012, when there were seven mass shootings. And while the annual count has gone up and down from year to year, there’s been a clear trend of an increased number of mass shootings post-2012. Over time, mass shootings have also gotten larger, with more people getting injured or killed per incident.8

How can we possibly ignore the connection between rampant use of drugs known to directly cause violent behavior and the rise in mass shootings? Suicidal ideation, violence and homicidal ideation are all known side effects of these drugs. Sometimes, the drugs disrupt brain function so dramatically the perpetrator can’t even remember what they did.

For example, in 2001, a 16-year-old high schooler was prescribed Effexor, starting off at 40 milligrams and moving up to 300 mg over the course of three weeks. On the first day of taking a 300-mg dose, the boy woke up with a headache, decided to skip school and went back to bed.

Some time later, he got up, took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage at gunpoint. He later claimed he had no recollection of anything that happened after he went back to bed that morning.9

The Risks Are Clear

The risks of psychiatric disturbances are so clear, ever since mid-October 2004, all antidepressants in the U.S. must include a black box warning that the drug can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially in those younger than 25, and that:10

“Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility (aggressiveness), impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.”

SSRIs can also cause emotional blunting and detachment, such that patients report “not feeling” or “not caring” about anything or anyone, as well as psychosis and hallucinations. All of these side effects can contribute to someone acting out an unthinkable violent crime.

In one review11,12 of 484 drugs in the FDA’s database, 31 were found to account for 78.8% of all cases of violence against others, and 11 of those drugs were antidepressants.

The researchers concluded that violence against others was a “genuine and serious adverse drug event” and that of the drugs analyzed, SSRI antidepressants and the smoking cessation medication, varenicline (Chantix), had the strongest associations. The top-five most dangerous SSRIs were:13

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac), which increased aggressive behavior 10.9 times
  • Paroxetine (Paxil), which increased violent behavior 10.3 times
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox), which increased violent behavior 8.4 times
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor), which increased violent behavior 8.3 times
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), which increased violent behavior 7.9 times

Depression Is Vastly Overdiagnosed

In her article, Carter also reviewed the clinical determinants for a diagnosis of clinical depression warranting medication. To qualify, you must experience five or more of the following symptoms, most of the day, every day, for two weeks or more, and the symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with normal everyday functioning:14

Sadness Anxiety
Feeling hopeless Feeling worthless
Feeling helpless Feeling ’empty’
Feeling guilty Irritable
Fatigue Lack of energy
Loss of interest in hobbies Slow talking and moving
Restlessness Trouble concentrating
Abnormal sleep patterns, whether sleeping too much or not enough Abnormal weight changes, either eating too much or having no appetite
Thoughts of death or suicide

The reality is that a majority of patients who receive a depression diagnosis and subsequent prescription for an antidepressant do not, in fact, qualify. In one study,15 only 38.4% actually met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria, and among older adults, that ratio was even lower. Only 14.3% of those aged 65 and older met the diagnostic criteria. According to the authors:16

“Participants who did not meet the 12-month MDE criteria reported less distress and impairment in role functioning and used fewer services. A majority of both groups, however, were prescribed and used psychiatric medications.

Conclusion: Depression overdiagnosis and overtreatment is common in community settings in the USA. There is a need for improved targeting of diagnosis and treatments of depression and other mental disorders in these settings.”

What Role Might War Games Play?

Aside from antidepressants, another factor that gets ignored is the influence of shooting simulations, i.e., violent video games. How does the military train soldiers for war? Through simulations. With the proliferation of video games involving indiscriminate violence, should we really be surprised when this “training” is then put into practice?As reported by World Bank Blogs, young men who experience violence “often struggle to reintegrate peacefully into their communities” when hostilities end.17 While American youth typically have little experience with real-world war, simulated war games do occupy much of their time and may over time color their everyday perceptions of life. As noted by Centrical, some of the top benefits of simulations training include:18

  1. Allowing you to practice genuine real-life scenarios and responses
  2. Repetition of content, which boosts knowledge retention
  3. Personalization and diversification, so you can learn from your mistakes and evaluate your performance, thereby achieving a deeper level of learning

In short, violent mass shooter games are the perfect training platform for future mass shooters. Whereas a teenager without such exposure might not be very successful at carrying out a mass shooting due to inexperience with weapons and tactics, one who has spent many hours, years even, training in simulations could have knowledge akin to that of military personnel.

Add antidepressant side effects such as emotional blunting and loss of impulse control, and you have a perfect prescription for a mass casualty event.

On top of that, we, as a nation, also demonstrate the “righteousness” of war by engaging in them without end.19 When was the last time the U.S. was not at war someplace? It’s been ongoing for decades.

Even now, the U.S. insists on inserting itself into the dispute between Russia and Ukraine, and diplomacy isn’t the chosen conflict resolution tool. Sending weapons to Ukraine and calling for more violence against Russians are. Sen. Lindsey Graham has even called for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Showing just how serious such a suggestion is, the White House had to publicly disavow it, stating Graham’s comment “is not the position of the U.S. government.”20

Graham, meanwhile, does not appear to understand how his nonchalant call for murder might actually incite murder. In the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, he now wants to mobilize retired service members to enhance security at schools, and while that might be a good idea, how about also vowing never to call for the murder of political opponents? Don’t politicians understand that this could translate into some kid thinking it’s acceptable to murder THEIR perceived opponents?

As far as I can tell, mass shootings have far more to do with societal norms, dangerous medications, a lack of high-quality mental health services, and the normalization of violence through entertainment and in politics, than it does with gun laws per se.

There are likely many other factors as well, but these are clearly observable phenomena known to nurture violent behavior. I’m afraid Americans are in need of a far deeper and more introspective analysis of the problem than many are capable of at the moment. But those who can should try, and make an effort to affect much-needed change locally and in their own home.

Sources and References

EDITORS NOTE: This MERCOLA column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

5 replies
  1. Royal A Brown III
    Royal A Brown III says:

    Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your 2 US Senators and 1 US Representative –Tell them the following: Reference the Texas mass school shooting. The solution is not more gun control or Red Flag Laws. The solutions are securing schools; arming trained school personnel willing to defend children; a Resource Officer with the training and courage to run to the sounds of gun fire and take out the shooter; LE backup who take immediate action and bringing back morality, respect for our existing laws and reporting mentally unstable people to authorities who then investigate and act on information.

    BACKGROUND: I, like every other God loving, law abiding American grieve for the 19 children and 2 adults murdered by a mentally insane, Evil young man apparently using AR 15 style semi-auto rifles BUT the gun(s) he used did not commit these terrible crimes; he and the Devil did. It also appears, just like the Parkland FL, Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS killings in 2018, to have been entirely preventable had School and District Administrators not been negligent. We know from MSD case LE at both FBI and Sheriff levels were negligent. It is now appearing this is also the case in the Robb Elementary shooting case as we now know LE stalled for at least 45 mins before a brave Border Patrol Agent took it upon himself to move in and kill the murderer.

    The Robb Elementary School, Uvalte, Texas killer was18 Yr old Salvadore Romas who had posted himself with ARs on social media 4 days prior to this terrible mass murder. He shot his Grandmother (who later died) and a BOLO was out on him before the school shooting. He was being pursued when he ran off road and apparently escaped near the elementary school which was not under lockdown where he entered an unlocked rear door into a 4th grade classroom and started shooting.

    Obviously, the shooter and the devil are at fault but we are finding out this is also another failure of both law enforcement and school officials to adequately protect these children just as it was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, FL in 2018. This will ignite another irrational cry for gun control and weapons ban. Andrew Pollock, the father of a child killed in the FL school shooting is right when he stated the below – see following link:: https://www.westernjournal.com/father-school-shooting-victim-3-point-plan-protect-schools-doesnt-involve-banning-guns/?

    “We shouldn’t be focusing on gun control now. Parents should be focused on what they can do. They could learn and educate themselves,” he told Fox News Wednesday.
    “We should be looking at what we can be doing to fix these things in schools. A single point of entry. How did the intruder get into the school? It should be locked down. We need school resource officers. And it’s just terrible to think that this was all avoidable,” Pollack further stated.

    Pollack’s 3-Point Plan: “We send out $Billions to other countries all the time. Why not fund school safety in America?” Pollack asked.

    -Armed guard
    -Single point of entry
    -Teacher training

    Adding to this plan, I agree we don’t need more Gun Control but what we do need are:
    – Physically secure schools, not ones with unlocked doors and gates that shooters can easily enter classrooms thru.
    – Armed, trained Resource Officers or Security Guards such as we have in FL in every school under the Sentinel/Guardian program
    – Armed, trained school personnel which FL law allows but School District Administrators & most County Sheriffs have been against for no good reasons.
    – LE standard operating procedures to run to the sound of gunfire in schools, without delay. rather than waiting to “develop the intel or the situation” – these paid guards must have the courage and be trained to take immediate action and run to the sounds of shooting, take out the shooter(s) and not hunker down and wait for support.
    – Better identification & care for mentally unstable people especially those known to others like medical, LE and education officials as potentially dangerous. This is especially true when these murderers are sending threatening signals over social media. We need the legion of leftist social media watchdogs and algorithms to be more concerned with actual threats of violence than censoring conservative speech they wrongly find to be “hateful speech” because of differences in political ideologies. Both Cruz in FL and Ramos in Texas had sociopathic issues broadcast over social media.

    We don’t need the Federal Govt and the Dept of IN-JUSTICE “administrative deep state” dictating unconstitutional policies and a leftist Congress or RINO State Legislators overreacting and passing laws and implementing witch hunt procedures impacting law abiding gun owners from exercising their 1st, 2nd, 4th 5th and 14th Amendment rights by mis-labeling them “domestic terrorists”, “white supremicists” etc.This is disinformation designed to scare them from speaking out against the socialist/Marxist/communist policies of the O’Biden Administration.

    Gird yourself, another round of emotionally driven, non-fact based, barrage of gun control efforts are on their way !

  2. Peacelove Joy
    Peacelove Joy says:

    Another thing we are overlooking is a lack of a father figure either by a father’s workaholism, abusive behavior, divorce, or never having been involved at all. If you look at the Columbine shooters, this was a problem. Look at the Uvalde shooter, this was a problem. Look at all the shooters in between, I bet you can see the connection. In turn, this leads to a lack of connection with peers and depression, suicidal ideation, violence and playing lots of video games or other addictions for the shooter to try to fill the empty places that come from lack of connection with their father. There is a lot of times also a lack of relationship to a higher power. Taking antidepressants away is not going to fix that even though some types of them are in fact part of the problem. The problem starts before that though. If that were fixed, there would be less depression etc. because a connection to a dad who is present and loving in his son’s life can sit down and listen to his son’s troubles and validate him and care for him. That’s how things used to be and you rarely saw shootings when mom stayed home and dad spent more time with his kids and most people went to church. A lot of dads back then used to teach their son’s how to shoot a gun. They would talk about how to safely handle one and to never point it at someone. There were no stigmas around guns and they weren’t completely off limits, which we all know with teens, the things that are off limits are the things they want the most. That’s just my two cents take it or leave it.

  3. JH Williams
    JH Williams says:

    False Cause Fallacy – Correlation does NOT equal causation. B follows A, therefore A caused B isn’t evidence.

    Perhaps the correlation between antidepressants and mass killers is one of misdiagnosis. Considering that much of mental and behavioral health in the US is driven by pharmaceutical treatment instead of intensive therapy, misdiagnosis is more common than not.
    The average person seeking help with mental issues will see an actual doctor for for approximately 30 minutes. The bulk of behavioral health relies on self-reporting and initial assessment by a therapist. Rarely is the patient subjected to test batteries or intensive analysis before a diagnosis is selected from the DSM checklist.
    And the tendency for mental health professionals to shy away from personality disorder or psychosis diagnoses, particularly in those under the age of 16, further contributes to mistreatment and misidentification for potentially violent minors.

    The same fallacy applies to the claim of first person shooter games (FPS).

    By your implication, I could say that a high number of minors with ADD and ADHD play video games, therefore a larger number play FPS games. Thus it is likely that ADD/ADHD minors are mass killers.

    This ignores the fact that shooter games are the 2nd most popular game world-wide and that mass public killers only make up less than 1% of total, annual, worldwide homicides, of which school mass killers are less than 11% of that number, or <0.11%.

    My largest objection is the implication that society at large must be regulated NOT from the behavior of the median or majority, but from the behavior of a insignificantly TINY portion of aberrant and deviant individuals.


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