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Citizens Commission on Human Rights Award Recipient (Twice)
Humanist, humorist

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Shoddy Journalism Puts Lives At Risk!




TV evangelist, Pat Robertson, has entered the David vs. Goliath arena with his comments regarding Sunday's mass killing by 26-year-old, Devin Patrick Kelley. Kelley, who shot and killed 26 people and left more than 20 wounded at a Southern Baptist Church in Texas, had received mental health "treatment" which undoubtedly involved doctor's prescriptions. Robertson, via Media Matters For America, told viewers, "We understand a lot of these shootings, the people involved, have been taking antidepressant drugs and that may well be the cause of these factors. But something is definitely going on."

Robertson added, "I hope and pray that they don't politicize this thing and start talking about gun control and all that because it won't be necessary, but I do think there's got to be a thorough investigation into the effects of antidepressants on these sorts of events. So many of these mass killings, and almost every one, as I said before, has had some nexus to antidepressants, so we need to see what we're giving people."


Robertson's plea for an investigation prompted an opinion piece on the Newsweek website by self-proclaimed science writer, Kate Sheridan, who states Robertson's assertion is incorrect.

Sheridan, who appears to have no medical background regarding antidepressants, backs her claims touting a study published in 2012 that examined 14 years of data from the Netherlands and supposedly found a significant negative association between violence and antidepressant use.

What Sheridan failed to point out was the limitations of the quoted study, further, the study was based on assumptions and not, as she incorrectly stated, science.

The study's authors summarized:
Detailed information on individuals who committed a form of lethal violence was not available. Future research should attempt to overcome this difficulty by obtaining additional information on autopsy reports from suicide decedents, an approach used in previous studies (Barber et al. 2008). In addition, detailed data per type of antidepressant per age and gender category were only available for the period 2002–2008. By applying average fractions of users per antidepressants, we were able to calculate the total number of users by gender and age group for the period 1996–2001. This approach, however, is based on the assumption that the fraction of users per antidepressants remains fairly stable over time. This assumption might have caused a wrongful estimation of actual use per age and gender category.
In an attempt to further support to her position, Sheridan quotes Antonio E. Puente, president of the American Psychological Association, who claims, "A complex combination of risk factors, including a history of domestic violence, violent misdemeanor crimes and substance use disorders, increases the likelihood of people using a firearm against themselves or others. Calling this shooting a ‘mental health problem’ distracts our nation’s leaders from developing policies and legislation that would focus on preventing gun violence through a scientific, public health approach."

Why she added this quote to her opinion piece slightly baffles me as Puente makes no mention of antidepressants. Puente was actually responding to a tweet by President Trump who labeled the Texas shooting as a "mental health" problem.

What's striking is that the American Psychological Association have, by their own admission, received money from pharmaceutical companies, the manufacturers of the drugs Sheridan seems to defend.

If Sheridan cared one iota about science, she could have reported that more than 27 global drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs cite ADRs to include mania, hostility, violence and--wait for it--even homicidal ideation! (1) Add to this the warnings the FDA are hiding from the public regarding prescription-drug induced homicides (2) and you can understand why even TV evangelists are now voicing concern from their pulpits. If religious organizations are truly concerned with protecting human life, more ministers should be shouting from the mountaintop "We demand a thorough investigation!"

Perhaps Sheridan's blinkered views on antidepressant-induced homicide may be better served if she were to review the hundreds of documents obtained by Andrew Thibault via the Freedom of Information Act. These documents can easily be accessed on the MurderMeds.com website should Sheridan have showed such interest.

The public doesn't yet know whether Texas shooter Devin Patrick Kelley was on or withdrawing from psychiatric medications. In other mass killings, information surrounding prescription drugs as "treatment" has frequently been withheld from the public. What is known, however, is that a high percentage of mass shootings are carried out by health care consumers who are on, or withdrawing from, psychiatrist-prescribed pills. Here are just a few:

 - South Carolina church shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, was on the benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

- Santa Barbara college shooter, Elliot Rodger, was on Xanax.

- Aurora Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes, was taking the SSRI antidepressant Zoloft.

- Germanwings Airlines co-pilot Andreas Lubitz,  who intentionally crashed his plane and killed 144 passengers, had been on Lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, as well as an unnamed antidepressant.

Geert Michiels was on or withdrawing from Paxil when he purposely drove his coach into a brick wall killing 28 passengers, 22 of whom were children.

The list is endless and will continue to grow as long as shoddy journalism such as Sheridan's continues.

Sheridan is, in essence, telling consumers and healthcare professionals to ignore the 27 global drug regulatory warnings regarding psychiatric drugs. By neglecting to report the 1,531 known cases of drug-induced homicidal ideation, she keeps her readers--and the general public--in the dark. Sheridan's article puts many lives at risk. But her dangerous and intentional ommissions help sell papers, keep pharma advertisers happy and retain her "scientific" sources for future quotes. 

Bob Fiddaman











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