Will the VA Tech Shooter Trigger Attacks on SSRIs

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  • 04/18/2007
Our colleague Ed Silverman generated a lot of controversy with his post that rumors that the VA Tech killer was on medication at some point might trigger another attack on drug companies about the alleged dangers of SSRIs.

Here's my take:

While I pin the blame on the media for over-hyping and misrepresenting the risks of SSRI's -- particularly the clinical trials involving children who have co-morbidities, misdiagnoses, etc. -- the fact is tha fear sells paper just as violence sells video games. The fact is, that as horrible as this campus shooting is, school related shootings are rare and violence on college campuses has declined because of increased security, increased counseling, etc., etc. And moreover, according to FBI crime stats, a college campus is ten times safer than than the US as a whole.

While I am on the subject, and excuse me for saying it and maybe I have a little more leeway for saying this because of my own family experience, but I am tired of the press using perpetually enraged parents who blame the death of their kid's on prescription drugs. There are thousands of children who take their own lives who who never get medication and thousands more who have pulled themselves from the abyss because of such drugs. Who are they to lecture the rest of us about the motives of drug companies and science of medicine. I am sorry for their loss but I have been through hell too. They have no monopoly on sorrow and portraying them as victims of antidepressants is inaccurate and unfair. Give it a rest!

You don't want your kids to be on anti-depressants. Fine. But stop pouring gasoline on a subject with ignorance and fear. And don't exploit a tragedy by using it to scare other parents into seeking appropriate care for their kids. As for the media, you have the facts now. Use them.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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