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.