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Petition FDA to Investigate if SSRI Induced School Shootings

Fri, 25 Mar 2005

The Minnesota shooting rampage by 16-year old Jeff Weise, prompted the parent organization, Ablechild.org, to petition the FDA to conduct "a full investigation into the possible SSRI induced school shootings."

"It took 15 years for the FDA to disclose that antidepressants can cause suicide and aggressive behavior in child. Our national parent organization is urgently requesting, in the best interest of children and the public safety, that this information regarding potential psychiatric drug use is immediately made public. While autopsy reports will confirm or deny this, we do not wish to wait one to two weeks for this information to be brought up as a possibility and investigated. It is easy to determine if the boy was being prescribed psychiatric medications. Autopsy reports will confirm what levels of the drugs he was taking." www.ablechild.org

The Washington Post describes the bleak, impoverished life of Jeff Weise who ended his life after killing 10 people. Weise described the reservation in Internet postings as a place where people "choose alcohol over friendship," where women neglect "their own flesh and blood" for relationships with men, where he could not escape "the grave I'm continually digging for myself." To escape his confined life, he fantasized himself a Nazi.

The New York Daily News reports that the revelation that Prozac was added to this tinder box "by Jeff Weise's aunts, Shauna and Tammy Luscher, on CBS News' "The Early Show" revived the debate over whether such drugs induce homicidal and suicidal thoughts in children and teens."

The Washington Post reports: "The last time he saw a mental health professional at the Red Lake hospital was on Feb. 21Š it was the same day he refilled his prescription for 60 milligrams a day of Prozac, which he had been taking since last summer."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: "He was getting counseling. His medication dosage had been increased a week earlier." Experts agree that the risk of SSRI drug-induced violent and suicidal behavior is greatest at the start of treatment--and whenever the dose is either increased or decreased.

Daily News notes that previous school shooters were also taking an SSRI: "Eric Harris, one of the teen gunmen in the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999, had been prescribed Prozac, as had Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents and classmates at Thurston High School in Oregon in 1998." Clearly neither Prozac nor mental health counseling helped Jeff Weise. Nor did an SSRI drug prevent any of the school shooters from their violent, murderous actions. The question for an FDA investigation is whether the drugs may have triggered the violent behavior?

The scientific evidence for making the connection between SSRIs and violence is compelling. Since May 2004, Health Canada‹but not the FDA‹requires that Prozac (and all of the new SSRI and SNRI antidepressant labels) carry specific warnings about violence:

"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."

See: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hpfb-dgpsa/tpd-dpt/prozac_e.html

AHRP calls for an independent examination of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health recommendations because the panel did not consider the evidence about these drugs' lethal effects. The panel recommended the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a model for providing expanded mental health services. But the TMAP practice guidelines recommend the use of SSRIs as "first line treatment." The TMAP recommendations‹which were made under the influence of drug manufacturers who funded the project-- would increase the number of youth prescribed SSRIs.

Those recommendations should be put on hold until the FDA has conducted a valid investigation‹as petitioned by the Ablechild.org. The National Institute of Mental Health has been conspicuously silent. NIMH has not ever conducted a study to determine whether SSRIs have played a role in triggering violent, murderous outbursts. Others have been tracking the school shooting characteristics informally: See: http://www.holology.com/matrix.html

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
212-595-8974

Ablechild Submits Written Request to FDA
Posted by ablechild on Mar 24 2005 8:45AM
Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ablechild contacted the FDA requesting a full investigation into the now linked Antidepressant School Shootings that took place on the Red Lake Reservation in RED LAKE, Minn March 23. - The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post confirm the suspicion that like the other adolescents who went on a school shooting rampage, Jeff Weise was taking an SSRI antidepressant. The Post identifies the drug as Prozac:

After 16 years of denial, a series of Eli Lilly documents that have recently become publicly accessible, show the company's own review (1988) revealed that even in controlled clinical trials--from which suicidal patients are excluded--38% of patients taking Prozac compared to 19% of patients on placebo experienced "activation." The term "activation" is used to describe violent and suicidal behavior. The authenticity of the Lilly-Prozac documents have not been disputed. See: http://www.ahrp.org/infomail/05/01/27.php

After a thorough independent examination of the pediatric SSRI antidepressant clinical trial data reported to the FDA, in April 2004, the FDA required all antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, to carry explicit warnings that apply for children and adults prescribed an antidepressant. The label warns about "the emergence of 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..." See: http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/antidepressants/default.htm

Ablechild has heard back from the FDA and been advised that Dr. Steven Galson has been assigned to receive a formal fax from Ablechild.org for a request for an investigation into the SSRI antidepressant link to the deadly shootings. We strongly urge all to fax Dr. Galson immediately with a request for formal public statement and a full investigation by the FDA into the possible SSRI induced school shootings.

DR. Steven Galson
Fax: 301-594-6197
FDA phone number is 301-594-5400

New York Daily News
Minn. Massacre teen taking Prozac
BY CELESTE KATZ
Thursday, March 24th, 2005

The 16-year-old Minnesota outsider who killed nine people before taking his own life was being treated with the controversial anti-depressant Prozac. The revelation yesterday by Jeff Weise's aunts, Shauna and Tammy Luscher, on CBS News' "The Early Show" revived the debate over whether such drugs induce homicidal and suicidal thoughts in children and teens.

Eric Harris, one of the teen gunmen in the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999, had been prescribed Prozac, as had Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents and classmates at Thurston High School in Oregon in 1998.

Weise killed his grandfather and the man's girlfriend before murdering five students, a teacher and a security guard at Red Lake High School on Monday.

Prozac, Luvox and similar antidepressants belong to a class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Dr. David Shaffer, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Columbia University, said the drugs alone cannot be blamed for the tragedies. "The kids who get involved in these terrible disasters are quite sick, and whether or not the SSRI is going to help them is an open question," Shaffer said.

Activist Vera Sharav, head of the New York-based nonprofit Alliance for Human Research Protection, noted that SSRIs carry warnings to watch for suicidal or aggressive behaviors in children. "We have got to look at the possibility that the drugs would not be the only cause, but if they are a match that ignites [aggression], that would be a real important safety issue," said Sharav. She contends that SSRI drugs take away "the inhibition that we naturally have. We'd like to wring someone's neck, but we don't do it."

Meanwhile, more evidence emerged showing Weise had been planning the massacre. TheSmokingGun.com reported Weise posted a computer animation on a Web site in October that shows a person shooting four people. The 30-second animation is titled "Target Practice" and depicts a person using an automatic rifle to shoot two people in the head, a third in the chest, blowing up a squad car with a grenade, and then shooting a Ku Klux Klan member. The animated shooter then puts the barrel of a handgun in his mouth and pulls the trigger.

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64315-2005Mar24_2.html

THE WASHINGTON POST
Minnesota Killer Chafed at Life On Reservation
Teen Faced Cultural Obstacles And Troubled Family History
By Blaine Harden and Dana Hedgpeth
Friday, March 25, 2005; Page A01

RED LAKE, Minn., March 24 -- In the months before he killed his grandfather, his classmates and himself, Jeff Weise painted an utterly nihilistic -- and often eloquent -- word portrait of life here on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

He described the reservation in Internet postings as a place where people "choose alcohol over friendship," where women neglect "their own flesh and blood" for relationships with men, where he could not escape "the grave I'm continually digging for myself."

In his dark and self-pitying depictions of life on the reservation, Weise appears to have drawn from his troubled personal history: When he was 8, his father committed suicide on the reservation after a standoff with police. About four months later, his mother suffered severe brain damage in an alcohol-related car accident.

Before that accident, while Weise was living with her in the suburbs of Minneapolis, his alcoholic mother often locked him out of her house and her boyfriend locked him in a closet and made him kneel for hours in a corner, said his grandmother, Shelda Lussier, 54, in whose home on the reservation the boy had lived since age 9.

In an interview outside her home, Lussier said that Weise, a hulking boy who stood 6 feet 3 inches tall and was almost always dressed in black, tried to hurt himself 14 months ago by jabbing his arms with a pen.

With his self-professed loathing of reservation life and burdened by the psychopathologies of his parents, Weise on Monday joined the ranks of America's schoolhouse mass murderers. The 16-year-old killed nine people -- his grandfather, his grandfather's female companion, a school guard, a teacher and five schoolmates -- before killing himself.

Still, Weise was not all wrong in his assessment of Red Lake. Like many Indian reservations, especially the poor and isolated ones in and around the Great Plains, this can be a dangerous, soul-crushing place to grow up.

Compared with the tidy Denver suburb where two teenage boys went on a well-armed rampage at Columbine High School, killing 13 people and then themselves in 1999, Red Lake exists in a distant and exponentially more dismal dimension of the American experience.

"I'm living every mans nightmare," Weise wrote online in January. "This place never changes, it never will."

If that sounds like teenage overreaching, Sister Sharon Sheridan, 73, principal at St. Mary's Mission School on the reservation, said this of the shootings: "You can't condone what happened here, but you sure can understand it." xxx cut xxx

http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/5312255.html

Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE
Did Meds Play a Role?
Chuck Haga

Excerpt:

Dosage increased

Weise's relatives "knew he had a problem with depression, and they took him to treatment," Cook said. "He was getting counseling." His medication dosage had been increased a week earlier, Cook added.

His grandmother, Shelda Lussier, 54, said he saw a mental health professional at Red Lake Hospital on Feb. 21, the same day his prescription was refilled for 60 milligrams a day of Prozac, which he had been taking since last summer, the Washington Post reported.

Studies have linked Prozac and similar antidepressants to a greater risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in kids. In October, the Food and Drug Administration revised the drugs' packaging to warn health professionals that they should closely monitor young patients when an antidepressant is prescribed or the dose is changed.

Prozac's manufacturer said monitoring patients being treated for depression is critical, especially if they are children.

Weise, in hundreds of postings attributed to him on the Internet over the past year or so, noted that he was on antidepressants, was going through therapy in Thief River Falls and had attempted suicide at least once by cutting his wrists.

In a posting in January, Weise also wrote of his regret over not having ended his life and hinted that another attempt could be on the way. Friends of Weise said this week that he had tried to kill himself earlier this year.

School officials and others have refused to discuss his medical situation except to confirm that he was placed on "homebound status" this year for an unspecified medical problem.

Relatives also "knew he spent time on the Internet, but they didn't really know what he was into there," Cook said, and reports detailing Weise's postings on a Nazi web site have them shaking their heads.

Weise, under a variety of user names, also visited other sites dealing with everything from government conspiracies to surviving school shootings. Last fall he posted a bloody animated video on the Internet in which four people are shot to death before the gunman shoots himself. "He was brighter than usual and had a vocabulary more like a college student than a 16-year-old," Cook said.

School to school

Weise also had a traumatic early childhood, moving from school to school and experiencing the loss of both parents before he was 10 years old. His father, Daryl Lussier Jr., committed suicide in July 1997 during a police stand-off on the reservation. Weise's mother, Joanne, suffered brain damage in 1999 when she and a friend crashed their car after drinking.

Shortly after his father's suicide, Weise enrolled in the fourth grade at B.F. Pearson Elementary School in Shakopee in September 1997. He stayed until the first week of his fifth-grade year, at which point he was withdrawn and enrolled at Bluff Creek Elementary School in Chaska.

Bluff Creek Principal Cath Gallagher said Weise left school in April 1998, about a month after his mother's traffic accident.

In his Internet postings, Weise said that before her accident his mother would hit him often, yell at him and tell him that his birth had been a mistake.

According to his Internet writings, Weise dressed in a "Goth" style with a long black coat, black boots and at times red hair spiked into devil's horns.

"I just don't know if anybody gave a lot of credence to the turmoil this guy lived with," Cook said. People said he was "just going through a phase" with his unusual appearance and outsider attitudes, "and that probably was devastating to him."

"I think you can get to the point where you feel you have no relief. Maybe he thought his grandpa should have been more cognizant of that."

Visitation for Lussier and his girlfriend, Michelle Sigana, began Thursday at the Humanities Building in Red Lake. Funeral services for them will be held there at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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