Following a mass shooting in Illinois at a parade on the Fourth of July, Representative Marjorie Taylor Green claims that SSRIs are linked to mass shootings. Green, a pro-gun advocate in Georgia, says that the public “deserves to know” about the shooter’s psychiatric history and what kind of medicine he took. In one tweet, she writes “When are we going to have an honest conversation about drug abuse, mental illness, and SSRIs?” and further questions if people are “covering for Big Pharma.” Although this is not the first time SSRIs have been blamed for mass shootings or increased violence, these claims stirred conversation online.
When are we going to have an honest conversation about drug abuse, mental illness, and SSRI’s???
And deadly side effects.
Are we really going to keep pretending?
Or covering for Big Pharma?
Because I’m absolutely done with the political plays on this BS. pic.twitter.com/8SkNpSOYWW
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene???????? (@RepMTG) July 5, 2022
According to the National Library of Medicine, “school shooters were not previously treated with psychotropic medications – and even when they were, no direct or causal association was found.” Although some studies show a possible side effect is a “tendency towards aggressiveness among patients receiving medications from this group, mainly during the first month of therapy,” patients are often prescribed the medicine at a low dose to work their ways up and are watched closely by physicians. And, even if studies showed that most mass shooters take psychiatric medicine, this does not mean that the medicine itself was what made them violent.
“Note from a psychiatrist with nine years of training: SSRIs don’t cause people to murder other people,” one person commented on Twitter. Many agreed, especially people who took the medicine that helped them recover from mental illnesses that can be incredibly delibating, and life-threatening if untreated. “Iceland is the world’s biggest consumer of SSRIs. They’ve had 5 gun homicides since 2020; in the US, there have been over 30,000 in that time,” Shannon Watts, a gun advocate, wrote.
Feeling the need to clarify a few things:
1. People with serious mental illness are more likely to be victims than to be perpetrators.
2. SSRIs don't cause people to murder other people.
3. Stop stigmatizing mental health to justify ignoring the evidence: Guns ARE the problem.
— Tina Boisseau, PhD (@DrTinaBoisseau) July 5, 2022
Some worry that SSRIs will become the next culture war and will be used to continue to defend against proposed gun laws. Many wrote about how antidepressants have helped them tremendously, despite the common beliefs or stigma surrounding psychiatric medicine.