In the wake of recent reports of suicide increases, the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) urges Congress and state governments to implement greater oversight of soaring psychotropic drug prescribing and their links to suicide and acts of violence. Where a death is categorized as a suicide, the group urges that it be registered whether the person was taking or withdrawing from psychotropic drugs at the time, as they can induce suicidal and violent behavior.
The group was responding to a Harvard Medical School study published in JAMA in June 2019, which found the rate of suicide among 15- to 24-year-olds climbed in 2017 to its highest point according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. The Harvard researchers pointed out, “The research had some limitations, including that the causes of death in the data were based on death certificates, which can be subject to error.” 
CCHR recommends that in all suicides there should blood tests for psychotropic drugs and the findings registered to study the role of these drugs in suicides.
Despite Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings that antidepressants may induce suicidal behavior in those younger than 24, IQVia Total Patient Tracker Database for 2017, reported 2.1 million 0-17 year olds were prescribed the drugs, of which 1,503,185 were aged 13-17. All told, there were 7.2 million children and adolescents taking psychiatric drugs. 
One in every eight Americans over the age of 12 reported recent antidepressant use, according to the CDC. Between 1999 and 2014, the number of Americans who said they had taken an antidepressant over the past month rose by 65 percent, a 2017 government survey also found. 
Suicide and Violence
In a published response to a BMJ article, “Antidepressants and murder: case not closed,” Professor Peter C. Gotzsche of Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen warned that the FDA admitted in 2007 that SSRI antidepressants “can cause madness at all ages and that the drugs are very dangerous.” Quoting the FDA: “All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior….” In adult and pediatric patients, antidepressants can cause: anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania. 
Professor Gotzsche pointed out, “People cannot be monitored every minute and many have committed SSRI-induced suicide or homicide within a few hours after everyone thought they were perfectly okay.”
- Researchers looked at 64,381 pages of clinical study reports (70 trials) from the European Medicines Agency. These showed that SSRIs in comparison with placebo increase aggression in children and adolescents, odds ratio 2.79. “This is an important finding considering the many school shootings where the killers were on SSRIs,” the researchers said.
- In a systematic review of placebo-controlled trials in adult healthy volunteers, antidepressants double the occurrence of events that the FDA has defined as possible precursors to suicide and violence, odds ratio 1.85.
- “It can no longer be doubted that antidepressants are dangerous and can cause suicide and homicide at any age,” Professor Gotzsche reported.
Veteran Suicides and Acts of Violence
This is also evident in veteran suicides. Veterans account for one of every five suicides, according to the Pharmacist, stating: “Although all patients on antidepressants should be monitored for suicidal ideation when titrating, younger veterans (18-24 years) in particular should also be monitored closely after initiation.” 
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie recently told Congress that the VA is stepping up efforts to prevent veteran suicides. He highlighted the problem of firearm-related suicides, which he said accounted for 70 percent of veteran suicides.  What he didn’t discuss was the increasing prescribing of psychotropic drugs to veterans and how many of those committing suicide by firearm were taking and withdrawing from the psychotropic drugs.
CCHR’s report, “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence & Suicide: Schools Shootings and Other Acts of Violence,” addresses both issues. Of 409 official psychiatric drug agency warnings, 49 warn of self-harm, suicide or suicidal ideation, 27 warn of violence, mania, psychosis, hostility, aggression and homicidal ideation, and 17 addiction and withdrawal effects.  To view CCHR’s Psychiatric Drug Side Effects Search Engine, click here. The report cites numerous cases of veterans that while taking or withdrawing from psychotropic drugs, committed senseless acts of violence, including the Washington DC Navy Yard shooter, the Fort Hood gunman and the killer of former Navy S.E.A.L, Chris Kyle. 
Some 56 percent of people who attempt to come off antidepressants will experience withdrawal effects, reported researchers in a study published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors. “It is not uncommon for the withdrawal effects to last for several weeks or months,” determined James Davies and John Read, both at London-based universities. Their findings were extrapolated from 23 peer-reviewed studies.  Researchers of a study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Journal reviewed self-reporting adverse events and found antidepressant post-withdrawal symptoms “may last several months to years.” Symptoms included disturbed mood, emotional liability, irritability, and poor stress tolerance. 
Constitutional attorney Jonathan Emord is also calling on the Trump administration to launch a probe into possible links between psychiatric drugs and the epidemic of school shootings. The attorney notes that psychiatric drugs are known to produce dangerous side effects that include thoughts of and/or tendencies towards suicide and, importantly, violence. As such, “shouldn’t we expect aberrant behavior to be cropping up all over the nation?” Emord asked. 
CCHR points to the recently passed Whole Veteran Act as a step in the right direction as it would require the VA to study alternative health services for veterans. As co-sponsor of the law, Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt, said, “It turns out that not all doctors think that the best way to deal with chronic pain or [post-traumatic stress disorder] or depression is to simply hand out more pills.” In the right combination, holistic treatments can be safer and more affordable than traditional medicine, he said. 
CCHR says preventing suicides must include the recognition of how psychotropic drugs can drive a person to suicide.
 “Suicide rates among America’s young people continue to soar, study shows,” CNN, 18 June 2019
 “Antidepressant use in U.S. soars by 65 percent in 15 years,” CBS News, 16 Aug. 2017, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/antidepressant-use-soars-65-percent-in-15-years/
 “Antidepressants and murder: case not closed,” BMJ; 358:j3697 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3697 (2 Aug. 2017)
 “VA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides,” The Hill, 19 June 2019, https://thehill.com/policy/defense/449444-va-chief-pressed-on-efforts-to-prevent-veteran-suicides
 CCHR, “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence & Suicide,” 2018, p. 5, https://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/violence-report.pdf
 CCHR, “Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence & Suicide,” 2018, pp. 39-40, https://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/violence-report.pdf
 “The indisputable link between psych meds and violence,” The Liberty Beacon, 15 Jun. 2019,
 “House passes Lamb bill requiring VA to study holistic treatment,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 21 May 2019,