Here at Age of Autism, we have been sharing with our readers the realities of the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. With that comes many topics, including vaccine injury and regression, school issues, adult housing and also various treatments. I have a daughter diagnosed with severe Autism and recently, an autoimmune disorder. Megan regressed in health and skills after vaccinations. With the continuing surreal killings in public settings over the years - schools, college campuses, malls and even a movie theater, the media has had a history of attempting to link some of these cases to Autism or Aspergers. You can read our recent statement Age of Autism Responds to Newtown Tragedy as this point is important: " Age of Autism mourns the deaths of all innocent victims of this awful crime and offers its deepest condolences to their families. Additionally, we are deeply disturbed by the association of the perpetrator of this awful crime by various media outlets to a vulnerable community - the autism community - with rumors that he was on the autism spectrum. Regardless of whether or not the shooter truly is on the autism spectrum, we wish to make it clear that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are in no way associated with criminal violence."
It is important then to look at reality and root causes because without them, it can be hard to find a solution. I would like to share some important data about these tragedies since we are all in the midst of a recent, gut-wrenching inciden,t but to do so, we have to go back in time, to look at patterns, something we think is important here on AoA.
On May 20th,1988, Laurie Dann walked into an elementary school in Winnetka, Illinois and shot five students, killing one. She was to kill herself later that day. I remember vividy hearing about that as I was working at a psychiatric hospital about 15 miles away. It was a shocking reality to know that a school could become a sitting duck to a violent mind. Here was a recent article about that horrific day, the young boy killed, and the fact that school shootings keep increasing:
"Since then, there has been a school or campus shooting somewhere in the United States almost every year. In many years, there have been three or four campus or school shootings."
On Friday, December 14th, 2012, Adam Lanza, an unknown name to the world on December 13th, allegedly forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown Connecticut. There he allegedly shot and killed 26 victims, 20 young children and 6 female adults. He is also believed to have killed his mother before this attack and then killed himself after the attack. If you google his name today, you will see 517 million hits. A monster? What do these two cases have in common? Weapons? Murder? Yes, both were tragic crimes but also with another commonality -- the perpetrator had been treated by a psychiatrist. Another clue, is the lesser discussed use of medications that may have a bigger piece, in not only these two cases but in other savage and senseless deaths of innocent people:
School Shooters Under The Influence Of Psychiatric Drugs
"Despite 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile school shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence."
"At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.) The most important fact about this list, is that these are only the shooters where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public. To give an example, although it is known that James Holmes, suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting that occurred July 20, 2012, at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was seeing psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, no mention has been made of what psychiatric drugs he may have been taking. Also note that all these mass shootings didn’t just occur in the United States:
1 -- Huntsville, Alabama – February 5, 2010: 15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed another Discover Middle School student Todd Brown. Memon had a history for being treated for ADHD and depression. He was taking the antidepressant Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.” He had been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist.
2 -- Kauhajoki, Finland – September 23, 2008: 22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine. He was also seeing a psychologist.
3 -- Dekalb, Illinois – February 14, 2008: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amount of Xanax in his system. He had been seeing a psychiatrist.
4 -- Jokela, Finland – November 7, 2007: 18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School in southern Finland, then committed suicide.
5 -- Cleveland, Ohio – October 10, 2007: 14-year-old Asa Coon stormed through his school with a gun in each hand, shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon had been placed on the antidepressant Trazodone.
6 -- Red Lake, Minnesota – March 2005: 16-year-old Jeff Weise, on Prozac, shot and killed his grandparents, then went to his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation where he shot dead 7 students and a teacher, and wounded 7 before killing himself.
7 -- Greenbush, New York – February 2004: 16-year-old Jon Romano strolled into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Special education teacher Michael Bennett was hit in the leg. Romano had been taking “medication for depression”. He had previously seen a psychiatrist.
8 -- Wahluke, Washington – April 10, 2001: Sixteen-year-old Cory Baadsgaard took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage. He had been taking the antidepressant Effexor.
9 -- El Cajon, California – March 22, 2001: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, opened fire on his classmates, wounding three students and two teachers at Granite Hills High School. He had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.
10 -- Williamsport, Pennsylvania – March 7, 2001: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.
11 -- Conyers, Georgia – May 20, 1999: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with the stimulant Ritalin when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.
12 -- Columbine, Colorado – April 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s medical records remain sealed. Both shooters had been in anger-management classes and had undergone counseling. Harris had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.
13 -- Notus, Idaho – April 16, 1999: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students. He was taking a prescribed SSRI antidepressant and Ritalin.
14 -- Springfield, Oregon – May 21, 1998: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 25. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac. Kinkel had been attending “anger control classes” and was under the care of a psychologist.
The list above does not include this terrifying event:
Police identified Cho Seung-Hui as the shooter who carried out the massacre that left 33 people dead, including himself. He was an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counseling service.....Police and university officials still offered no clues as to exactly what set off Cho, a 23-year-old senior, on the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. News reports said that he may have been taking medication for depression.
Immediately after the incident, reports carried speculation by family members in Korea that Cho was autistic  However, no known record exists of Cho ever being diagnosed with autism, [33/34] nor could an autism diagnosis be verified with Cho's parents. The Virginia Tech Review Panel report dismissed an autism diagnosis [35/36] and experts later doubted the autism claim. 
Sadly, the issue of guns, security at schools and parenting continue to be scrutinized yet the glaring link of medications are dismissed. Here
was a list of medications that had reported violence associated with them. From that 2010 study:
In the 69-month reporting period we identified 484 evaluable drugs that accounted for 780,169 serious adverse event reports of all kinds. This total included 1,937 (0.25%) cases meeting the violence criteria. The violence cases included 387 reports of homicide, 404 physical assaults, 27 cases indicating physical abuse, 896 homicidal ideation reports, and 223 cases described as violence-related symptoms.
Last year, TIME sounded the alarm on that study:
"Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence"
Here are the top ten offenders:
10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline, this drug is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.
9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) A drug related to Pristiq in the same class of antidepressants, both are also used to treat anxiety disorders. Effexor is 8.3 times more likely than other drugs to be related to violent behavior.
8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) An antidepressant that affects serotonin (SSRI), Luvox is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be linked with violence
7. Triazolam (Halcion) A benzodiazepine which can be addictive, used to treat insomnia. Halcion is 8.7 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs, according to the study.
6) Atomoxetine (Strattera) Used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Strattera affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline and is 9 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to the average medication.
5) Mefoquine (Lariam) A treatment for malaria, Lariam has long been linked with reports of bizarre behavior. It is 9.5 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.
4) Amphetamines: (Various) Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD and affect the brain’s dopamine and noradrenaline systems. They are 9.6 times more likely to be linked to violence, compared to other drugs.
3) Paroxetine (Paxil) An SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with more severe withdrawal symptoms and a greater risk of birth defects compared to other medications in that class. It is 10.3 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs.
2) Fluoxetine (Prozac) The first well-known SSRI antidepressant, Prozac is 10.9 times more likely to be linked with violence in comparison with other medications.
1) Varenicline (Chantix) The anti-smoking medication Chantix affects the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, which helps reduce craving for smoking. Unfortunately, it’s 18 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to other drugs — by comparison, that number for Xyban is 3.9 and just 1.9 for nicotine replacement.
Lariam may be familiar to AoA readers as Dan Olmsted has written some exclusive and extensive articles on its dangers in the military.
It is more than likely that there are others that did not make this list -- yet -- but are known to be dangerous to some of their users. How do I know that? Back to Laurie Dann: Police also would like to speak with two other psychiatrists who treated Dann. One of those doctors prescribed an experimental drug to her, which she received from Canada by mail. Traces of the drug, clomipramine, were found in her blood.
The drug does carry warnings that high doses could cause suicidal depression, delusion and extreme bewilderment, and that combination of the drug with another could be dangerous, said DeVito. But psychiatrists said the drug would not induce any violent behavior. `It is not a homicidal drug by any means,`` DeVito said......
Call a healthcare provider right away if you or your family member has any of the following symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:
- thoughts about suicide or dying
- attempts to commit suicide
- new or worse depression
- new or worse anxiety
- feeling very agitated or restless
- panic attacks
- trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- new or worse irritability
- acting aggressive, being angry, or violent
- acting on dangerous impulses
- an extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)
- other unusual changes in behavior or mood
Reading up on Fanapt, it is a newer medication not used for Aspergers but for Schizophrenia.
"Fanapt is specifically indicated for the acute treatment of adults with schizophrenia"
There is limited evidence for the efficacy of pharmacotherapy in autistic disorder; however, SSRIs and atypical antipsychotics are used to alleviate some of the associated symptoms.
Is it possible that there are negative side effects from medications, capable of rendering a user into a murder spree? You be the judge.
Psychiatric Disorders: Frequent – restlessness, aggression, delusion; Infrequent – hostility, libido decreased, paranoia, anorgasmia, confusional state, mania, catatonia, mood swings, panic attack, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, delirium, polydipsia psychogenic, impulse-control disorder, major depression.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.