What’s Really Behind the Increased Violence in Connecticut?

January 12th, 2015 | Breaking News

Look at Psychiatric Drugs, Not Subjective Mental Illness Labels.

AbleChild is fascinated by the “logic” behind New Canaan Police Department’s recent flip-flop regarding firearm permits based on mental health records.

The entire debacle initially was sold as a public safety issue with New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski arguing that there was grave concern about “gun violence that has occurred in our state as a direct result of individuals that are mentally ill possessing firearms.” Krolikowski reported that he did not have access to the Department of Health & Addiction Services database and, therefore, could not issue temporary state permits.

Within a day of that announcement, Krolikowski reversed his stand when he reported that, unbeknownst to him, police actually do have access to an applicant’s mental health history through the state police department.

What is of interest, though, is Krolikowski’s remarks about the gun violence that has occurred in the state as a result of the mentally ill possessing firearms. Krolikowski did not provide specific information about the number of mentally ill possessing firearms or, for that matter, what mental illnesses were involved.

Is Krolikowski referring to the Sandy Hook Shooting and Adam Lanza? If so, no permits for the firearms used at the Sandy Hook shooting were issued to Adam Lanza. Additionally, neither of Adam Lanza’s mental health issues would have precluded him from obtaining a firearm permit. Adding insult to injury, the State of Connecticut has refused to make public Lanza’s mental health records. Worse still, Lanza’s psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Fox, destroyed his records without any repercussion. Simply put, there is no way for law enforcement (or anyone) to know whether Lanza had some unknown mental illness that would have precluded his obtaining a permit.

While AbleChild supports any effort to protect public safety, it seems there are other actions that could be taken by Connecticut’s law enforcement personnel that may prove more effective in understanding what actually may be behind the increased violence in the state. For example, rather than collect information about an applicant’s mental illness label, law enforcement may find it more advantageous to collect data about the “treatment” being prescribed.

There is overwhelming evidence that psychiatric drugs, prescribed to “treat” mental illness, cause violent behavior. In fact there are twenty-two international drug regulatory warnings that cite psychiatric drugs causing violent behavior, including mania, hostility, violence, aggression and homicidal/suicidal ideation.

Between 2004 and 2012, there were nearly 15,000 reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects, including more than fifteen hundred cases of homicidal ideation/homicide, 3,287 cases of mania and more than eight thousand cases of aggression.

Furthermore, according to a 2011 study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, published in the journal PloS One, and based on data provided by the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting System, 31 drugs were linked to reports of violent behavior. Nine of these were psychiatric drugs prescribed to “treat” mental illness, including the antidepressants prestig, Effexor, Luvox, Strattera, Paxil, Prozac and Chantix; Amphetamines used to treat ADHD; and the benzodiazepine, Halcion.

As the mental health industry most often prescribes psychiatric drugs for the “big four” “mental disorders,” which include depression, ADHD, bi-polar and schizophrenia, it would appear that having information about what is being prescribed is far more important than the psychiatric label.

Many states in the nation collect psychiatric drug data upon arrest and, if transferred to the county jail, processing must include this data, as the suspect will be provided the medication while awaiting trial. This data would provide a larger picture of those who are committing violent crime while being treated with a psychiatric drug and also would provide detail about which drugs are most implicated.

Denying Constitutional rights based on subjective psychiatric labels, which are not based in medicine or science, does little to protect public safety. One need only look at recent actions taken by the Russian government to restrict those with “gender identity disorders, disorders of sexual preference and psychological and behavioral disorders associated with sexual development and orientation” from driving in the country to see that restricting basic rights based on subjective psychiatric labeling is a slippery slope.

In the case of Connecticut, today, restrictions are imposed on those who have been labeled with a subjective mental illness and voluntarily or involuntarily committed. The question is whose rights will be restricted tomorrow?   If law enforcement is really interested in what is causing the increase in violent crime, Ablechild believes that information can easily be obtained by looking at psychiatric drugs taken by those committing the crimes.

Is Sandy Hook Father Asking the Wrong Questions?

August 14th, 2014 | Breaking News, Press Releases

In a recent article in the pressherald.com, father of Sandy Hook victim Avielle Richman, Dr. Jeremy Richman, is looking for answers, saying “we’re scientists. We ask ‘why’ for a living.” So one can only wonder why he’s failed to ask the questions that scream for answers.

As the father of one of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, Dr. Richman is on a broad, all encompassing mission to understand the workings of the brain of those who commit violent acts. Clearly this is a noble cause. But Ablechild cannot help but wonder what action Dr. Richman has taken to understand the murderous behavior of his child’s killer, Adam Lanza.

Specifically, it is well known that Ablechild sued the state of Connecticut in order to have Lanza’s medical/mental health records, autopsy and toxicology reports released for public review. Ablechild was denied this request as the state randomly concluded the non-profit was “not a stakeholder.” Ablechild believes that we all are stakeholders.

But it seems impossible that the state would deny a request by the family of one of the victims. Clearly the Richman’s would be considered “stakeholders.” Did Dr. Richman contact Ablechild to lend his support in these efforts? No. Has Dr. Richman ever requested that the state release this important information? Ablechild is unaware of any of the victim’s families requesting this information be made public.

It is no secret that Lanza had mental health issues. The problem, though, is that the State Police investigation of the shooting incident provides no information about Lanza’s mental health “treatment” after 2007 – five years prior to the shooting.

The public is aware that Lanza was “treated” at the Yale Child Study Center for OCD and was prescribed two antidepressants – Celexa and Lexapro – experiencing serious adverse reactions to both psychiatric drugs, as reported by his mother. But that was five years prior to the shooting.

What mental health “treatment” did Lanza receive after his “treatment” at Yale? It seems unrealistic that this grieving father would initiate this daunting brain campaign without having investigated every possible lead for answers about the man who killed his daughter.

After all if Lanza had been receiving mental health “treatment” prior to the shooting that consisted of psychiatric drugs, that information may be useful in understanding Lanza’s violent behavior. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed “Black box warnings” on all antidepressants as they may cause suicidal ideation and a host of other adverse reactions, including mania, psychosis and hallucinations.

Prior to the shooting was Lanza prescribed one or several psychiatric drugs to “treat” his OCD? Nobody knows. This information has not been made public. Has Dr. Richman made an effort to meet with Peter Lanza to glean information about Adam’s mental health “treatment?”

As a neuroscientist who has worked with pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Richman cannot ignore the fact that psychiatric drugs may actually cause violent behavior and, thus, information about Lanza’s mental health “treatment” may actually help understand his violent behavior. Failing to request specific, detailed information about Lanza’s mental health history seems odd.

Furthermore, has Dr. Richman, or any of the victim family members, requested information about the sealed, stamped envelope found in the Lanza home addressed “for the Young Students of Sandy Hook Elementary School?” Does Dr. Richman, or any of the victim families, know what was inside that envelope? Have the family members questioned the State Police about how the DNA of a convicted offender from New York was found on that envelope, while Adam and Nancy Lanza’s DNA was eliminated?   Do the family members wonder why, out of thousands of pieces of paper removed from the Lanza home, this particular envelope was fingerprinted and tested for DNA? What made this piece of evidence so important?

Additionally, has Dr. Richman, or any family members, questioned the State Police about the oddities of the ballistics report. For example, have any the family members raised questions about the weapon used to kill Nancy Lanza – the Savage Mark II rifle? Testing revealed the weapon has no fingerprints or DNA from Adam Lanza, but does have DNA for some unknown person.

Dr. Richman’s desire to understand the workings of the human brain of those who commit violent acts is a noble cause, but one cannot help wonder why Dr. Richman, and the other family members, appear to have no interest in the mental health records of the man who killed their loved ones or, for that matter, the ever increasing number of oddities in the official investigation of the shooting.

Ablechild believes these are basic questions that may help provide the answers that Dr. Richman is seeking and, also, make sense of the millions of dollars that were immediately appropriated by the State Legislature for increased mental health services.

 

 

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