Montgomery County Coroner has confirmed that the alleged Dayton, Ohio shooter had the benzodiazepine, alprazolam, in his system along with cocaine, alcohol and other substances.[i] In its report, Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide, the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) details at least nine other prominent senseless acts of violence since 2008 where the person responsible was taking a benzodiazepine, sometimes with an antidepressant. Of these, four had taken alprazolam. Combined, they were responsible for 260 deaths and about 650 wounded. When taken with other drugs and alcohol, benzodiazepines increase their effects. [ii]
According to a forensic study that the U.S. National Institutes of Health posted, benzodiazepines can cause behavioral dis-inhibition, hostility, rage, “serious crimes and sometimes homicides.” Combined with alcohol, they produce “hazardous” states.[iii]
Finnish researchers published the findings in their 2015 study that linked tranquilizers, which includes benzodiazepines, to violence. The drugs were found to increase the risk of a consumer committing a homicide by 45% and antidepressant by 31%.[iv] A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology also found that “…benzodiazepines and [SSRI antidepressants] are the main pharmacological classes able to induce aggressive behavior.” [v]
A further study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, examined 46 studies on the relationship between benzodiazepines and aggressive behaviors, finding: “An association between benzodiazepine use and subsequent aggressive behavior was found in the majority of the more rigorous studies…” Diazepam and alprazolam received the most attention.[vi]
Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International, said: “There is enough evidence to warrant a federal investigation into the link between psychotropic drugs and acts of violence. Despite investment in violence prevention programs, between 2014 and 2018, at least five acts of senseless violence in schools involving shootings or stabbings have left 21 dead and 22 wounded.”
Federal budgets have allocated millions of dollars to school violence prevention efforts, which include training for school personnel to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental “illness” in students. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is one program.[vii] Yet a study published in Studies in Social Justice in 2016 said the MHFA “trains citizens to pathologize human suffering” and “produces new, more reachable psychiatric patients, presuming and thereby increasing citizen availability to psychiatric contact and life-long patienthood.”[viii]
Developed in Australia, MHFA is overseen in the U.S. by the National Council for Behavioral Health, a group that is funded by at least 12 pharmaceutical companies. Patrick Hahn, a professor of biology at Loyola University said that MHFA is geared toward pushing young people toward more psychiatric drugs, questioning whether parents are aware that the training was “an eight-hour infomercial bought and paid for by the drug makers?”[ix]
Several psychiatrists argue there is no “scientific” evidence—clinical trials—that prove psychiatric drugs cause mass shootings. [x] However, clinical trials are unlikely to be approved to deliberately induce violence. Eastgate adds, “Astoundingly, one professor of psychiatry dismissed any drug link, giving an analogy that a mind-altering drug impacting the behavior was as likely as wearing a pair of shoes.” “Why not point to some other ‘factor’ that is common to 100% of mass shooters—wearing shoes, for example,” the psychiatrist said. “Every mass shooter on record was wearing some type of shoes at the time, but it would be absurd to blame shoes for mass shootings.”
The psychiatrist’s conflicts of interest includes research funds and consulting fees from pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly and Novartis and addressing a seminar on violence and mental illness, sponsored by Pfizer—the manufacturer of three antidepressants and the benzodiazepine, Xanax and Xanax XR (alprazolam, extended release).[xi] The FDA lists side effects of Xanax XR that include agitation, aggression, anger, homicidal ideation and suicidal ideation.[xii]
Further, the false advice given to the White House is that loosening involuntary commitment laws to identify “mentally disturbed individuals” would reduce mass shootings.[xiii] Diane Stein, president of CCHR Florida points out: “Psychiatrists and psychologists are terrible at predicting a danger to oneself and others—an arbitrary requirement for involuntary commitment.” Accumulated research literature indicates that errors in predicting dangerousness range from 54% to 94%, averaging about 85%.[xiv] A Wayne State University Law School report states: “For nearly twenty years we have known that psychiatrists cannot predict whether a person who has committed a violent act will be violent in the future.”[xv]
“With 29 medical studies and 27 drug regulatory agency warnings showing that psychotropic drug adverse effects include mania, psychosis, hostility, aggression or homicidal ideation, it behooves governments to investigate this,” Eastgate and Stein stated.
They want to see a law enacted similar to a New York Assembly Bill introduced that would require police to report on certain crimes and suicides committed by a person using psychotropic drugs.[xvi] A report on psychiatric drug usage in such crimes could be made public to identify which drugs are most associated with violence.
[i] “Gunman in Dayton mass shooting had cocaine and other substances in his system,” NBC News, 15 Aug. 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/gunman-dayton-mass-shooting-had-cocaine-other-substances-his-system-n1042906
[ii] https://www.rxlist.com/benzodiazepines/drugs-condition.htm; From CCHR’s report, killers on benzos include: Marine Lance Corporal Delano Holmes), 1 dead; Former U.S. Marine Gavin Long, – 3 dead, 3 wounded; Stephen Paddock Las Vegas, Nevada, 59 dead, 500 wounded; Andreas Lubitz, Southern France (German wings) 150 dead;
Dylann Storm Roof , Lexington, 9 dead; Elliot Rodger, Santa Barbara, California, 2 dead, wounded 1; James Holmes, Aurora, Colorado, 12 dead, 70 wounded; Robert Kenneth Stewart, 8 dead, 3 wounded; Christopher Wood, 4 dead, committed suicide; Steven Kazmierczak, killed 5, 21 wounded; Matti Saari, Kauhajoki, Finland, 10 dead, 1 wounded (2008); Total: 371 dead; 599 wounded
[iii] Michel L, Lang JP., “Benzodiazepines and forensic aspects,” Encephale, 2003 Nov-Dec; 29(6):479-85, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15029082
[iv] David DiSalvo, “Common Painkillers And Sedatives Linked To Increased Risk Of Homicide, According To Study,” Forbes, 4 June 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2015/06/04/common-pain-killers-and-sedatives-linked-to-increased-risk-of-homicide-according-to-study/#1083a9581aef.
[v] Nadege Rouve, Haleh Bagheri, et al., “Prescribed drugs and violence: a case/noncase study in the French PharmacoVigilance Database,” European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 7 June 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21655992
[vi] Albrecht B, et al., “Benzodiazepine use and aggressive behaviour: A systematic review,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2 Sept. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK293296/
[vii]“President Trump Releases FY 2020 Budget Proposal,” 15 Mar. 2019,
[viii] Jan Nadine DeFehr, “Inventing Mental Health First Aid: The Problem of Psychocentrism,” Studies in Social Justice, Vol, 10, Issue 1, 2016, http://www.westernmassrlc.org/images/stories/Inventing_Mental_Health_First_Aid_The_Problem_of_P.pdf
[ix] “Drug companies prey on children,” The Baltimore Sun, 25 Dec. 2016,
[x] “VERIFY: In the past 20 years did the majority of mass shooters take psychotropic drugs before committing a crime?” 13 Aug. 2019,
[xi] https://www.fiercepharma.com/sales-and-marketing/pfizer-forest-and-lilly-dominate-top-10-ranking-of-psych-meds; https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer_s_pristiq_desvenlafaxine_demonstrates_low_potential_for_sexual_dysfunction_in_adults_with_major_depressive_disorder
[xiv] Margaret Hagen, Whores of the Court, The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice, (Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., New York, 1997), p. 165, citing Terrence W. Campbell, “Challenging Psychologists and Psychiatrists as Witnesses,” Michigan Bar Journal, Jan. 1994.
[xv] Erica Beecher-Monas , Edgar Garcia-Ril, “Danger at the Edge of Chaos: Predicting Violent Behavior in a Post-Daubert World,” Law Faculty Research Publications, 1-1-2003, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e1fe/bb1382d282dde06cc3e3707c2ffecab9c8ce.pdf