FSU Shooter Reported to be on Psychiatric Drugs—CCHR Questions Why There Still Has Not Been a Federal Investigation into Psychiatric Drugs & Violence

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The world’s leading mental health watchdog, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, released a new article on the Florida State University shooter, Myron May, as being the latest in a long line of mass shooters who had been taking and/or withdrawing from psychotropic drugs and questions why there has still not been a federal investigation into psychiatric drugs and violence.

How often must the combination of psychiatric drugs and violence play out before those who have the power use that power to save lives?

Myron May, 31, identified by police as the shooter who opened fire at the Florida State University (FSU) library on November 20th, wounded three people before police shot him to death.[1] Mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has released a new article stating that while most media headlines are focusing on May’s apparent paranoia and deteriorating mental state, the shooter’s friends have provided more detail about May’s life leading up to the attack. According to May’s former roommate, Keith Jones, “There is more to his mental health (status) that may have caused some of this. He was taking medications which caused paranoia.”[2] CCHR points out that May is the latest in a long line of mass shooters who had been taking and/or withdrawing from psychotropic drugs.

According to CBS News, an ex-girlfriend called police on May saying he was harassing her. The ex-girlfriend, Danielle Nixon, further reported that May had been hospitalized for several weeks prior, and that “in addition to spending time at Mesilla Valley Hospital, May was taking prescription drugs.”[3] And while the complete number of drugs May had been taking still is not known, according to ABC News, “inside May’s apartment there was a half-filled prescription for Hydroxyzine,” commonly known as an antianxiety drug. And those who knew May report that the shooter was taking psychiatric drugs, had been experiencing paranoia due to them, used to see a therapist and had been hospitalized prior to the shooting.[4] Another friend, Abigail Taunton, said of May, “obviously, he was not in his right mind.”[5] CCHR states that with psychiatric drugs being a part of the equation, and acknowledging the known adverse events associated with psychiatric drugs, this statement could turn out to be the most accurate assessment provided for a motive for May’s attack.

Just some of those on the ever-increasing list of shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs, documented by international drug regulatory agencies to cause violence, at the time of their attacks, includes:

  • Santa Barbara, California May 23, 2014 – Elliott Rodger killed six and wounded 13 before taking his own life. Rodgers had been prescribed Xanax and Vicodin.[6]
  • Fort Hood, Texas, April 2, 2014 – Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three and wounded 16 others before taking his own life. Lopez had been prescribed Ambien, antidepressants and other medications to treat anxiety and depression.[7]
  • Washington, D.C., September 17, 2013 – Aaron Alexis killed 12 and wounded eight others before he was killed by police. Alexis had been taking the antidepressant, Trazodone.[8]
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 8, 2012 – John Shick killed one and wounded six. Nine antidepressants were found in his apartment.[9]
  • Seal Beach, California, October 12, 2011 – Scott DeKraai killed eight and wounded one. DeKraai had been prescribed the antidepressant, Trazodone and the “mood stabilizer” Topamax.[10]

The mass shooters who either were on or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs at the time of the deadly attack has resulted in 76 dead and 61 wounded. This does not include the 34 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence that have been committed primarily by minors or teens, taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in a further 166 wounded and 78 killed.

CCHR says that regardless of the particulars of each shooting, there is a common denominator to these mass killings in as much as the psychiatric drugs they have been taking or withdrawing from are documented by 22 international drug regulatory warnings to cause mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation. Moreover, CCHR’s website documents that between 2004 and 2012, there have been 14,773 reports to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects, including 1,531 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide, 3,287 cases of mania and 8,219 cases of aggression.[11] The FDA admits that less than 1% of side effects are reported to them, so these numbers represent only a fraction of the incidents where psychiatric drugs have been tied to acts of violence and homicide.[12]

Despite the evidence documenting psychiatric drugs as causing potential side effects of mania, psychosis, violence, depersonalization, aggression, suicide and in some cases, homicidal ideation, CCHR says it is incomprehensible that lawmakers have to date not held hearings investigating the connection between psychiatric drugs and the ever-increasing number of violent acts. CCHR asks, “How often must the combination of psychiatric drugs and violence play out before those who have the power use that power to save lives?”

Read the full article here.

About Citizens Commission on Human Rights: CCHR is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog. Its mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. CCHR has helped to enact more than 150 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices.


[1] Dan Good, “Florida State University Gunman Myron May Sent Packages to 8 Friends,” ABC News, Nov. 21, 2014, abcnews.go.com/US/florida-state-university-gunman-myron-packages-friends/story?id=27075157.
[2] Jordan Culver, et al., “Shooter Identified as Florida State alum Myron May,” Tallahassee Democrat, 21 Nov 2014, tallahassee.com/story/news/local/fsu-news/2014/11/20/shooter-identified-fsu-alum-myron-may/70007494/.
[3] Lisa Gartner, et al., “FSU shooter's life unravels, ends in violent tragedy,” Bradenton Herald, 21 Nov 2014, bradenton.com/2014/11/21/5487794/fsu-shooters-life-unravels-ends.html; “Police: FSU Gunman Was In State Of ‘Crisis,’” CBS Miami, 21 Nov 2014, miami.cbslocal.com/2014/11/21/police-fsu-gunman-was-in-state-of-crisis/.
[4] Jordan Culver, et al., “Shooter Identified as Florida State alum Myron May,” Tallahassee Democrat, 21 Nov 2014, tallahassee.com/story/news/local/fsu-news/2014/11/20/shooter-identified-fsu-alum-myron-may/70007494/.
[5] Doug Stanglin, et al., “Shooter was FSU grad, ex-prosecutor 'in crisis,’” USA Today, 20 Nov 2014, usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/20/myron-may-profile-fsu/70011814/.
[6] Oren Dorell and William M. Welch, “Police identify Calif. Shooting suspect as Elliot Rodger,” USA Today, 26 May 2014, usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/24/shooting-california-santa-barbara/9532405/; Richard Winton, Rosanna Xia, Rong-Gong Lin II, “Isla Vista shooting: Read Elliot Rodger’s graphic, elaborate attack plan,” LA Times, 25 May 2014, latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-In-isla-vista-document-20140524-story.html#page=1.
[7] Nick Allen, “Fort Hood gunman was on a cocktail of prescription drugs,” The Telegraph, 3 Apr 2014, telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10742912/Fort-Hood-gunman-was-on-a-cocktail-of-prescription-drugs.html.
[8] Trip Gabriel, Joseph Goldstein and Michael S. Schmidt, “Suspect’s Past Fell Just Short of Raising Alarm,” The New York Times, 17 Sept 2013, nytimes.com/2013/09/18/us/washington-navy-yard-shootings.html?pagewanted=all.
[9] Margaret Harding and Bobby Kerlick, “UPMC probed in Western Psychiatric Institute shooting rampage,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 29 Mar 2012; Joe Mandak and Kevin Begos, “Pa. hospital could be liable in fatal shooting,” Associated Press, 28 Mar 2012, cnsnews.com/news/article/pa-hospital-could-be-liable-fatal-shooting.
[10] “Seal Beach shooting: D.A. expects an insanity defense,” LA Times, 14 Oct 2011, latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/10/seal-beach-shooting-da-expects-an-insanity-defense.html; “Ex-wife feared Seal Beach suspect as unbalance,” CBS News, 13 Oct 2011, cbsnews.com/news/ex-wife-feared-seal-beach-suspect-as-unbalanced/.
[11] "The Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS): Older Quarterly Data Files," U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Surveillance/AdverseDrugEffects/ucm083765.htm; 22 international warnings compiled from the US FDA, fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch; US DEA, justice.gov/dea/‎; Health Canada, hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php; Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, mhlw.go.jp/english/; European Medicines Agency, ema.europa.eu/ema/; Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, tga.gov.au; UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, mhra.gov.uk/‎.
[12] David A. Kessler, MD, “Introducing MedWatch, “A New Approach to Reporting Medication and Device Adverse Effects and Product Problems,” JAMA, 9 Jun 1993, fda.gov/downloads/Safety/MedWatch/UCM201419.pdf; Marilyn R. Pitts, “OPDRA Postmarketing Safety Review (PID020169),” Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 1 May 2002, fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/UCM110854.pdf.

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