Cockburn’s Chemicals

Writing in Counterpunch, confirmed man of the left Alexander Cockburn offers his jarring, almost anarchist, take on the murders at Virginia Tech last week. It’s a lengthy piece, and one that will, no doubt, raise more than a few hackles. But sifting through it all, and in a way following-up on Jim’s post from earlier, there is this:

What should be banned from campuses are not weapons but prescriptions for antidepressants. Eric Harris, co-slayer (with Dylan Klebold) of twelve students and a teacher in the Columbine school shootings in 1999, was on Luvox, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) of the same class as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. Initially Harris had been prescribed Zoloft, but told his doctor he was having suicidal and homicidal fantasies. So the doc shifted him to Luvox.

16-year Jeff Weise, who killed 10 schoolmates at Red Lake High School on an Indian Reservation in 2005 was on Prozac. The manufacturer said 4 per cent of children in one of its tests of Luvox developed short-term mania. Other studies of the SSRI anti-depressants have claimed they have a 15 per cent chance of prompting suicidal or homicidal reactions.

Cho Seung-Hui was on a prescription drug for his psychological problems. What exactly it was not yet been disclosed, though the likelihood of it being an anti-depressant is high, since doctors on campuses dispense prescriptions for them like confetti.

Later, Cockburn has a “sampler” of spree-killers and their link to anti-depressants. Was the presence or absence of such drugs a factor in the most recent murders as it appears they may have been in previous cases?

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5 responses to “Cockburn’s Chemicals”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I’ve not heard of any evidence that Cho was taking antidepressants. They even said no prescriptions were found in his dorm or on his person. Even if he was, saying that antidepressants are the problem is kin to saying that driving a car was the problem.

    How many people take antidepressants and DON’T go around murdering everyone?

  2. Phil Chroniger Avatar
    Phil Chroniger

    Agreed…imagine if these some of these kids, teetering on the edge of the cliff, didn’t receive the meds necessary to keep them sane?

    This tragedy, among others, would’ve happened more than once, and the first would’ve been quite a while ago.

  3. Groveton Avatar

    Everybody gets a choice – you can fill prescriptions for anti-depressants OR you can own guns.

    People who take sleeping pills or most pain medication are not supposed to drive cars while under the influence of these drugs.

    If anti-depressants make some small percentage of the people who take them psychotic – no guns.

    Of course, you’d have to have gun registration so that the authorities could go to your home and take your guns once you start taking anti-depressants which may cause psychosis.

    Kind of like the way the authorities can come to your house and take your car if you don’t pay your parking tickets. How can they do this? By knowing who owns cars and where those people live.

    Of course, when the King of England comes back with an army to take over the US and finds the gun registration database – we’re all in trouble. He’ll disarm all the gun owners (who are all part of a ‘well regulated militia’ and, therefore, constitutionally guaranteed the right to bear arms).

    Or wait – are we supposed to use these guns to defend ourselves against our own government? It’s been a while since I was in ‘well regulated militia’ training. That must be it – defend ourselves against our own government. I can go stand in my backyard and empty all 32 rounds from my Cobray M-11/9 automatic pistol at the B-52s flying overhead.

    There are a lot of good reasons to refuse to sell guns to some people. There are a lot of good reasons to get the guns away from some people who already have them. However, you have to know where the guns are first.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    This is one of those issues that cuts so many different ways and as such – I think appropriate to label it as a “defining” issue.

    It really does boil down to how much individual freedom we want verses how much government control of our lives do we want.

    This issue, to me, is very similiar to the terrorism issue in terms of the public wanting to be protected from “bad guys”.

    The difference in terms of lethality between a “bad guy” who speaks arabic and hates America and one who is merely off his rocker and hates everyone – in terms of direct human impact is in my mind… non-existent because what folks want is a “barrier” that is effective and does not let anyone who wants to kill past it – regardless of the reason why.

    There’s also some delicious ironies here with respect to those who support less government and less intrusive government – signing on with the same flaming liberals to create a hyper nanny-state.

    I have one other thought for Groveton.

    If the idea of a well-regulated militia was to be able to EFFECTIVELY oppose tyrants – you’d have to keep pace on a technology basis – right?

    Handguns against high-tech weapons won’t deliver.. the safeguards…that we think the framers of the constitution were trying to preserve with the passage about a “well-regulated” militia – right?

    Also – what does “well-regulated” actually mean?

    Was it intended to mean some level of “control” over those who had guns?

    or .. tell me what the difference in meaning is between having the phrase “well-regulated” and NOT having it….

  5. Anonymous Avatar


    Everybody gets a choice – you can fill prescriptions for anti-depressants OR you can own guns.

    I take antidepressants and what you suggest is that since a small sector of people have an adverse reaction to these drugs I shouldn’t be able to share the same rights as everyone else.

    That’s out of line. You could make the same argument for people who have the occasional drink. If a small portion of drinkers show nasty behaviour after drinking alcohol, then should all beer drinkers be barred from owning guns?

    Maybe you just need some more information on antidepressants….

    Many people, like myself, take antidepressants because our bodies do not create enough seratonin. It’s a disease just like heart problems and high cholesterol for some. It cannot be controlled without the drugs. I am in no way a danger to anyone with or without the drug but if people like me don’t take the drug, we cannot be production members of society. We can’t process thoughts or control embarrassing crying jags even when there’s nothing wrong. Without the medication, I am somewhat emotionally paralyzed. We have emotions just like you. We’re not zombies or weirdos when on the medication. The medication makes us “normal” just like you are when you wake up every morning.

    I am a very productive member of society, an active member of my community, a highly rated employee, a caring daughter, a loving sister, a loved grandmother, and a very involved parent. I live a wonderful life that I thank God for every single day. If you have your way, the drugs that I depend on to live will become such a stigma that no employer will hire me and my children would be stripped away. Remember the old days when companies would not hire you because of these things? Remember the old days when insurance companies wouldn’t cover you because of these things?

    I’m no doctor but I personally suspect that Cho was schizophrenic or something else than “depressed” since he displayed symptoms very young in life. You generally don’t see depression as a toddler as his family has described. On the other hand, I understand that schizophrenia usually presents itself in the teen years and worsens severly in the young twenties. In addition, if he was taking antidepressants, his actions would be expected. Many schizophrenics are misdiagnosed and antidepressants actually cause the symptoms to worsen. That’s not to say that individuals with schizophrenia cannot also be active members of society. They can! They just need the right medication and behaviour counseling.

    Please learn more about depression and antidepressants before suggesting that people like me should lose our rights. I personally have no reason or desire to own a gun but when you make suggestions like that, you are affecting more than gun control. You know as well as I do that it wouldn’t stop there.

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