The Taboo Question in the wake of Newtown

In the wake of yesterday’s horror at Newtown, Connecticut, everybody’s buzzing about gun laws and evil and mental illness—and everything but the taboo question: did psychotropic medications play a role in this horror?

The Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons wrote a compassionate and thoughtful response to the tragedy, but she too, if the conversation on her Facebook page today is any indication, doesn’t seem to take seriously the possibility that medications may have played a role.

But it is a matter of fact that psychiatric medications can cause violent thoughts and behaviours, and it seems to me utterly irresponsible on behalf of the media not to be asking questions on this front. Should Adam Lanza have been on medication? Was he, and if he was, which one?

Yes, I know medications can save lives. But I also know they can take them. The question we need to have answered is one of where the greater risk lies.

And whose words do we give more weight? Scientists like David Healy, or the experts who tell us not to worry our pretty little heads? Do we bother to listen to the voices of the people? Those, like former Edmontonian Angela Bischoff, who lost her husband, Tooker Gomberg, to suicide that occurred five weeks after starting his antidepressant medication and a few short days after increasing the dose to its maximum level?

There are thousands of these stories, literally. And listening to the people is always a good place to start, in my mind. As is listening to those who have gone to the trouble to document what the corporate media doesn’t want to document.

No, we don’t need guns in the hands of thousands. And yes, medications can be useful in some cases. Still, the conversation must move beyond the line that has been drawn, way beyond it.