Last week, people across the nation learned of the mass shootings in El Paso TX and Dayton Ohio. I saw the news in a hotel lobby with a hotel clerk who made a thought-provoking comment: “What do you expect when parents give their kids drugs?” She was alluding to our drug-cultured society, in which our children are using usage antidepressants prescribed in schools. She was suggesting that the end-result will always be violence. However, the question lingered in my mind: is there a relationship between violence such as mass shootings and mental illness, or is there a connection between drugs and violence? The buzzword “mental illness” is now front and center in the Democratic platform for the presidency. However, is it too late to look upon this illness as an epidemic?
According to the National Institutes of Health report on mental health in America in 2017, 46.6 million adults suffer from mild to serious mental illness. Women represent the highest percentage (22.3%). Men are at 15.1%. In this survey, young adults (18-25) reported the highest incidence of mild to serious mental illness. Mental illness among whites was highest, followed by blacks and Asians.
The point is that we have a serious mental health problem in America, and our government has seriously ignored it.
According to the National Institute of Health, from 2013 to 2019, funding increased significantly between 2017 in 2018; however, in 2019, funding was reduced from $2.9 billion to $2.7 billion.
But throwing more money at the problem will not resolve it. Over the years, American society has become more resigned about not only this problem, but also other problems that plague us such as racism and unequal civil rights.
Americans have an epidemic on their hands. No more sugar-coating this problem.
So, what is the cause of the mass shootings? Does mental illness have a connection with all the gun violence that is going on? Very little, I say: research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that only 3% of individuals with serious mental illnesses commit crimes with guns. And only 1% of the individuals who commit mass shootings have a mental illness. However, people that commit suicide with firearms often have a mental illness.
So, by the numbers, there’s no real connection between mass shootings and mental illness.
Now let’s look at the issue of drug usage, particularly relating to our children and mass shootings that the hotel clerk alluded to.
I have found a strong connection between crimes committed (in our case mass shootings) and the perpetrator’s usage of some type of anti-depressant or psychiatric drug (prescribed or not). Please review the following cases:
- In 1998, a school shooting in Oregon left 4 people dead and dozens injured; the perpetrator was on Prozac, an anti-depressant.
- In 1999, in a Colorado high school named Columbine, a school shooting left 15 dead and dozens wounded; two perpetrators were on an antidepressant at the time of the shooting.
- In 2005 in Minnesota, a school shooting took place, and 10 people were killed and 7 were injured. The shooter was on Prozac. It was also reported a week before the shooting that the shooter was on a double dosage prescribed by his doctor.
- In 2008 in an Illinois school, a shooter killed 6 people and injured dozens. This individual was on Prozac. It was later reported by those who knew this individual that he was very withdrawn.
There are many other school shootings that are too awful to describe, along with the mass off school campuses in Las Vegas, California, Texas and Ohio. But the majority of school shootings are committed by young people (such as Andrew Golden, age 11, taking Ritalin; and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, who also took Ritalin and killed four students and injured 10 others).
So what about kids that are on the stimulants prescribed for their hyperactivity (ADHD)?
The two common drugs approved by the FDA are Adderall and Ritalin. Both have the same psychiatric side effects. The FDA warns that children need to be closely monitored when they take these drugs. The child can experience psychiatric issues such as bipolar disorder, aggressive behavior, and, worst of all, withdrawal and hearing of voices. The New York Times reported that over 3 million children in the United States over a 30-year period have taken these drugs.
How do we regain control? The only way, parents, is to start in your household. Become an observant parent who is involved in your child’s life. Take control of your children. Psychiatrist Dr. Sydney Walker’s book, The Hyperactivity Hoax, records a variety of reasons for hyperactive behavior: “Children with early-stage brain tumors can develop symptoms of hyperactivity or poor attention.” Dr. Walker also talked about the lead-paint epidemic, in which children living in dilapidated housing built in the early 60’s to the late 70s were exposed to lead paint peeling from the walls and wood fixtures. They would show signs of irritability, problems with learning, and developmental delays. Today, these children would have been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s scary to think about the epidemic that is about to be unleashed. I think this is the tip of the iceberg.
Just as our government has been ignoring the problem of global warming, so too will this problem will show its irreversible destructive head.
However, parents, involve yourself in your child’s life. Involve yourself in your child’s school. Our children are being psychologically diagnosed by amateurs who are subjugating our children to psychiatric drugs that will harm them for life – and maybe make them a threat to our community and society. So be your child’s voice. Get involved with the political and legislative process that focuses on protecting our children from being experimented on in our school systems. Get involved with your community and your local law enforcement when you see abusive behavior in our neighborhoods.
Last but not least, we need to get back to strong family values, because the lack of them has been eroding our American way of life.
The Bible verse I think is appropriate in this moment is 2nd Chronicles 7:14 (NIV): “If my People who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive them their sins and will heal their land.”
Derrick C. Darden, PhD