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Are School Shooters All Mentally Ill or Insane? List of School Shooters on Mental Health Medications

Updated on June 17, 2018
Eric Harris One of the Columbine High School shooters was on anti depressants.
Eric Harris One of the Columbine High School shooters was on anti depressants.

Another School Shooting and Mental Health

Here I sit again watching the sadness on the news of another school shooting. I fell asleep last night watching the horrific scenes. Some say that we shouldn't talk about the realities behind these shooting because we shouldn't make it political. I say we shouldn't keep ignoring the problem hoping for a change while our government leads us in the direction they want. I am angry that more children are gone. I am angry that this becomes a talk about guns instead of a talk about why they chose to use violence to begin with.

Medications seem to be a leading cause to violence in teens and young adults. It is time that the media made a bigger connection to this so that we can make a change. We can not continue to stand back and argue over if it was a gun or not. The people who have these problems are going to end up in bad situations no matter what the laws are. We need to encourage better mental health training for teachers and hold parent's responsible. Yes many of these shooters are mentally ill, and yes medication is sometimes needed, but you can't just throw pills at someone and hope for a change. More is needed.

Robert A. Hawkins Killed 9  Was on Anti-Anxiety Medication
Robert A. Hawkins Killed 9 Was on Anti-Anxiety Medication | Source

List of School Shooters Taking Anti-Depression and Anti-Anxiety Medications

  • Springfield, Oregon – May 21, 1998 15 year old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents. He then killed two students at his school, and wounded 22. Kinkel was on the medication Prozac.
  • Idaho – April 16, 1999 15 year old Shawn Cooper fired a shotgun in his school though no students were hit. Cooper was taking antidepressant medications.
  • Colorado – April 20, 1999 18 year old Eric Harris was on the antidepressant medication Luvox when he and his friend Dylan Klebold, taking a different antidepressant, killed 12 classmates and a teacher, wounded 23, and then committed suicide,
  • Georgia – May 20, 1999 15 year old T.J. Solomon was being treated with a mix of antidepressant medications when he opened fire in his class and wounded 6 of his classmates.
  • Pennsylvania – March 7, 2000 14 year old Elizabeth Bush was on the antidepressant Prozac when she blasted away at fellow students in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, wounding only one.
  • California – March 22, 2001 18 year old Jason Hoffman was on two antidepressant medications, Effexor and Celexa, when he opened fire at his California high school wounding five students. Hoffman had also undergone an “anger management” program not long before this.
  • New York – February 2004 16 year old Jon Romano walked into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Only one was wounded. Romano had been taking antidepressant medications.
  • Minnesota - March 21, 2005 16 year old Native American Jeff Weise, reportedly taking the antidepressant Prozac, Started shooting at home and then at his school, killing nine people, wounded five others,and committed suicide.
  • Virginia – April 16, 2007 The psychiatric drug history of Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech Massacre was never made public. Initial reports stated that “depression medication” was found in Cho’s belongings.
  • Ohio – October 10, 2007 14 year old Asa Coon went through his school shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon had been placed on the antidepressant Trazadone not long before this happened.
  • Finland – November 7, 2007 18 year old Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants when he killed eight people and wounded 12 more at Jokela High School in southern Finland, before committing suicide.
  • Illinois – February 14, 2008 27 year old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people, wounded 16 others, and killed himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology reports showed that he still had Xanax in his system.
  • Alabama – February 5, 2012 15 year old Hammad Memon shot and killed another Discover Middle School student named Todd Brown. Memon had a history being treated for ADHD and depression. He was taking the antidepressant Zoloft.

14 year old Asa Coon
14 year old Asa Coon

The Problem is NOT Just Guns The Problem is ignoring Mental Health Issues

So to those who want to yell about how we need stricter gun laws, Why not stop the problem instead of using a band aide to fix it. This ranges way outside of school shootings. Children are killing their parents, grand parents, friends, and neighbors all while on or weaning off of Anti-Psychotics. So how can we continue to ignore the mental health issues?

There have been hundreds of studies showing these medications can cause suicidal and homicidal behavior yet these drugs continue to be given to children.

Do you think mentally ill Killers should get mental health counseling or just put in jail?

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  • Say Yes To Life profile image

    Yoleen Lucas 

    4 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

    Yesterday's shooting in Roseburg Oregon once again brings this issue to the forefront. You have made a list of people on psychomeds. Obviously they don't prevent the shootings, so we have to look at the real cause.

    I wonder how many of these kids were victims of bullying? When I was in middle school, kids couldn't buy guns, but my school - one of the better ones - averaged about one killing a year. A boy killed his tormentor with a dinner knife the year I was there. Bad as things were, I'm surprised it wasn't far worse.

    I know someone who almost shot up his workplace. He is not a psycho; he was framed for something horrible, and freaked out. He is a "loser" type who tends to attract bullies; obviously meds don't change that.

    I personally blame these mass shootings on bully culture. Growing upin Oakland CA, I've seen too much to discredit that aspect.

  • kevinwrites profile image

    Kevin Brown 

    7 years ago from Maryland


    Great work on this. I always find these incidents horrifying and depressing. The fact that society does little to solve the problem but in many cases makes it worse is even more disturbing.

    Anti-depressants like Prozac are known to increase mental health symptoms. Children and young adults will require closer attention than older adults would. From personal experience, I've taken Prozac and Luvox and know they make symptoms worse.

    It's so alarming that people focus on gun control laws more so than the mental health issues that lead to violence and the unnecessary loss of life.

    Thank you for including the reference to medication. I only wish the media and government could focus on problem-solving and the pain of the victims more often.

  • peeples profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from South Carolina

    Cantuhearmescream, This hub was published for less than one day before HP disabled it. I had to take a lot out for it to get republished and it took a few weeks for me to do it. So the hub went without views for a while.

    It's sad that so many people don't even consider the mental health of children who are obviously having something go wrong. I truly believe that if we can start looking at the mental health issues more we will see a decrease in crimes committed by them. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Cantuhearmescream profile image


    7 years ago from New York


    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have found myself in huge debates ever since the most recent school shooting in Connecticut and people seem to either be “Pro-gun” or “Anti-gun”. I have people yelling at me from both sides but no one wants to look in the middle. I have been trying to scream out from the top of my lungs that there is a serious problem in all of these tragedies before a gun is even picked up. Whether it is the medication or the illness itself, being inappropriately diagnosed, not diagnosed, not treated or treated improperly, I seriously agree that the problem comes before the gun. I am surprised that more people haven’t been by to comment on your hub considering the huge interest in the topic right now; but I think they should. Maybe you ought to retitle it “GUN LOVERS; Click Here”.

  • peeples profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from South Carolina

    Thank you everyone and a big thanks to you ahorseback as you must have shared. I will tell everyone a short story to give you an idea why I wrote this. When I was 16 after going into foster care I was placed in a mental hospital to deal with all the emotions. While there a young boy 12 years old was committed. He had sexually assaulted his younger sister. His parents never visited him. At medicine call he got a hand full of pills. Long story short I watched this little 12 year old boy commit suicide and there was nothing I could do. I always wondered did he abuse his sister because he was mentally ill or was he mentally ill because of the stress he had gone through in the aftermath of that behavior. Medicines are far too often given to people who could simply be taught coping skills. Medicine should be a last resort and is instead the first thing given to "troubled" children. I don't think it's a coincidence that so many spree killing children are on medications. Again thanks everyone.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Peeples , I just published a hub you might look at praising THIS hub ! Take a look wise young woman !.......ED.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 

    7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

    Voted up and interesting. Well that got me depressed just by reading. Very informative and fascinating read. If these facts are public knowledge I wonder why something isn't done before the next tragedy occurs???? Frightening to say the least and then Hollywood will make a movie and we'll weep. Something is very wrong in this world..... Passing this on.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 

    7 years ago from Deep South, USA

    There obviously needs to be more research on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs, especially relative to their use by teens. These kids who killed may have done so because of mental illness, not because they were on meds to treat it. (Cause or symptom?)

    However, that said, I do know for a fact that some medications can cause a personality change because I was prescribed Cymbalta following an accident that left me with chronic pain and some depression because it affected my lifestyle. I had to stop taking it because I began getting angry.

  • sen.sush23 profile image


    7 years ago from Kolkata, India

    This is a lot of data you have got together and just by listing out these gory details - you highlight the issue in all its devastating and tragic implications. Though I come from a totally different culture and country, and child offenders are not something unheard of in my country- but school shoot outs are really unheard of. This is very different- there is definitely a link between the crime and the deep insecurity and psychological instability of the shooters. I do agree with you that the medical practices should be responsibly reviewed by both Govt and the individual, but also, the question must be pondered that what is that 'lack' that is driving these young and budding people, who apparently do not seem too deprived, to pick up a gun and not be able to restrain themselves? Thanks for a thought provoking hub. Voted up.

  • ImKarn23 profile image

    Karen Silverman 

    7 years ago

    Excellent thought provoking hub, my friend. Thank aHorseback for getting me to 'giddy-up' on over

    i can't say that i agree with ALL you say, but i certainly agree with the gist. You want to reduce the number of dead people - as do it..

    My thought after reading your post is that it's the DOCTORS/PSYCHOLOGISTS that we need to look at (along with many other factors)..Let's face it - antidepressants are dispensed like candy these days - THEY'RE the 'band-aid'..

    Got a headache - have an anti-anxiety pill! Feeling down? Here - have an anti-depressant! Maybe they should change the labels on these babies to not only read: May cause suicidal thoughts, but to also read: May Cause HOMICIDAL Thoughts as well?

    Having said that - it also makes me wonder about the ages of these nice, young white boys - it's LONG interested me that these shootings are done mostly by young men of an age that correlates with the day it became a CRIME to spank them..

    sitting in a corner with your nintendo or ipad is NOT punishment, folks..

    Finally the end of my rant has arrived - i

    i come from canada - we watch just as much violence, have just as many violent video games, just as many people on 'meds' - and almost as many guns (per capita, of course)..

    There's NO problem of this nature here - or - a minuscule amount in comparison..

    Wherein lies the difference? Maybe it's just plain old ordinary BEING ABLE TO LAY HANDS ON REALLY BAD GUNS..

    gun control is not a band-aid - look over the fence to canada where it's not an issue and people don't feel deprived cause they can't blow a deer apart with an ar 15...(omg)..


    excellent hub and sharing forward...

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Peeples , Hi , we have to bring this Awesome hub to the surface ! You ,my dear ,have done your homwork on this one !++++++:-}


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