Psychotropic Drugs Frequently Linked to Active Shooter Incidents

Psychotropic Drugs Frequently Linked to Active Shooter Incidents

The active shooter is one of the few physical threats to public safety that is yet to have a criminal profile.  The FBI conducted an analysis of 154 active shooter attacks on American soil between 2002 and 2012 that involved three or more individuals being shot. The result of that report includes the following:

  • 51% of shooters died after the event (43% committed suicide and 8% were killed by first responders)
  • 45% of shooters were arrested and 4% remain unidentified
  • 40% of attacks determined no clear motivation, however;
  • 21% of attacks were related to workplace retaliation
  • 14% of attacks were related to some type of domestic dispute, and
  • 7% of attacks were related to academic retaliation by a current or former student.

No two active shooter events are alike, hindering law enforcement’s ability to develop an offender profile that could help prevent future attacks from occurring. Peter B. Ainsworth, an experienced author and researcher in the field of psychology and crime, identified four main approaches to offender profiling: the geographical approach, investigative psychology, the typological approach, and the clinical approach. Investigative psychology and the clinical approach are methods that are beginning to find contributing factors in each of the shooters’ psychological and mental capacities. With these methodologies, research has concluded that a majority of the shooters responsible had a diagnosed psychological condition and were prescribed and/or taking some type of pharmaceutical drug such as Prozac, Luvox, Ritalin, Zoloft, and Effexor. Even when taken as prescribed, these medications have serious effects on an individual’s brain chemistry. In addition, these psychotropic medications carry adverse side effects that have been observed in a number of individuals taking these drugs, including:

  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization
  • Hostility
  • Hallucinations
  • Manic reactions
  • Homicidal ideation
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Delusions
  • Feeling intoxicated

While prescription drugs are not the only contributing factor to active shooter attacks, it is a startling revelation that a number of active shooter offenders were prescribed some type of medication, during the time of the incident, for a diagnosed condition. Perhaps further investigation into how psychotropic medication and the effects it has on one’s mental judgments will help unveil potential indicators into what causes one to perform an active shooter attack.


Psychotropic Drugs Frequently Linked to Active Shooter Incidents

by:  Chris Grollnek June 7, 2013

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