Screening Pilots Didn’t Work, and Other Thoughts on the Germanwings Crash

Most pilots who've used planes to commit suicide had actually been screened for mental health issues, reports the New York Times. Plus a selection of other commentaries that continue to emerge about the Germanwings plane crash... More →

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Don’t Blame their Brains for Teen Violence

Pacific Standard examines the research into teenagers who commit violent crimes, and finds that their "brains" seem to be much less to blame than their economic status. More →

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Study Suggests Banning Guns from the Impulsively Angry, Not the Mentally Disordered

Huffington Post reported on a study from Duke, Harvard and Columbia researchers, finding that "nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm." There was little correlation between impulsive anger and mental disorders. More →

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Largest Survey of Antidepressants Finds High Rates of Adverse Emotional and Interpersonal Effects

I thought I would make a small contribution to the discussion about how coverage of the recent airline tragedy focuses so much on the supposed ‘mental illness’ of the pilot and not so much on the possible role of antidepressants. Of course we will never know the answer to these questions but it is important, I think, to combat the simplistic nonsense wheeled out after most such tragedies, the nonsense that says the person had an illness that made them do awful things. So, just to confirm what many recipients of antidepressants, clinicians and researchers have been saying for a long time, here are some findings from our recent New Zealand survey of over 1,800 people taking anti-depressants, which we think is the largest survey to date.
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“No, Psychiatry Could Not Have Prevented the Germanwings Disaster”

In The New Yorker, Gary Greenberg points out that half of Americans allegedly have a mental disorder at some point in their lives and mental health professionals are not particularly apt at preventing the statistically miniscule portion who might do something catastrophic. More →

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Pilots Crashing on Antidepressants:
A (Not So) Brief History

With the current focus on the possible contribution of psychoactive drugs to the crash of GermanWings flight A320 on Tuesday, March 24, it is useful to identify potential links between the effect of the antidepressants and the events.  In all 47 cases listed on SSRIstories, the pilots were taking antidepressant medications, mostly SSRIs, often in combination with other medications and sometimes with alcohol.
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Winging it: Antidepressants and Plane Crashes

The crash last week of the Germanwings plane has shocked many. In view of the apparent mental health record of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, questions have been asked about the screening policies of airlines. The focus has generally been on the conditions pilots may have or the arguments they might be having with partners or other situational factors that might make them unstable. Even when the issue of the medication a pilot may be taking is raised, it is in the context of policies that permit pilots to continue on drugs like antidepressants to ensure any underlying conditions are effectively treated. But fewer treatments in medicine are effective in this sense than people might think and even when effective they come with effects that need to be balanced against the likely effects of the underlying condition.
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Germanwings Pilot Reportedly Had Antidepressants — Many Banned By US FAA

Germany's Die Welt has reported that the German pilot who apparently deliberately crashed a commercial passenger plane had antidepressant drugs in his home, according to CNN. The US Federal Aviation Administration has banned US pilots from taking many SSRI antidepressants. More →

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“Regulating the Intersection of Health Care and Gun Control”

On RegBlog, attorney Charles Kels analyzes the nature and impacts of recent legislation aimed at requiring health care providers to disclose mental health information about patients to government. He argues that states may ultimately determine the reach of federal legislation. More →

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“Why US Law on Guns and Mental Health Needs to Change”

New Scientist discusses the reasons that eight US professional organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Public Health Association "collectively took a stand against a law that on the face of it, seems like plain common sense." More →

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People With Mental Illnesses Up to Ten Times More Likely to Be Violently Assaulted

People who've been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses are from three to ten times more likely to become victims of violent and non-violent crimes than members of the general population, according to a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry. More →

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Could an Intensified Version of Normality Be the Real Cause of Mass Shootings?

In Aeon, Joseph Pierre explores how research has dispelled many of the common beliefs about the causes of mass murders, such as "bad parenting, mental illness, guns, video games, the media, heavy metal music, or just plain evil." So what are we left with, he asks, except to look inward for the real roots? More →

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Voice Hearing Often Linked to Violence in News Media

When discussing voice hearing, news media most often link the phenomenon to "criminal behavior, violence, and suicidality," according to a study in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry. "The majority of articles examined contained no suggestion that [auditory verbal hallucinations] are possible in psychologically healthy individuals," concluded author and Felician College psychologist Ruvanee Vilhauer. More →

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Study Begins into Violence Against People with Mental Health Issues

The non-profit Empowerment Council and Psychiatric Disabilities Anti-Violence Coalition based in Toronto, Canada have announced the launch of a study into prejudice, hatred and violence directed against people with mental health issues. As part of the study, they are seeking input from the public. More →

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There are No Proven Psychosocial Therapies that Reduce Self-harming in Teens

There are no psychosocial treatments or psychotherapeutic methods that are proven to effectively reduce thoughts and behaviors of self-harm in youth, according to a review of the scientific literature by a team of Harvard University psychologists publishing in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. More →

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Is Everyone Too Afraid to Conduct Real Research into the Causes of Gun Violence?

Even though the Obama administration ordered the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research into the causes of gun violence after the Newtown shooting, the organization has "fear" of proceeding, states an article in The Washington Post. The CDC and many other researchers are worried about the political consequences from the gun lobby, the article states, if they should find that the main problem is simply lack of gun control. More →

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Hospitals Experiencing Soaring Violence — From Staff as Often as From Patients?

An "epidemic of violence against health care workers plagues hospitals" as "hospital administrations and the judicial system do little to prevent assaults against nurses and other caregivers by patients," reported Scientific American. Conversely, the same day, The Guardian reported "a hidden outbreak," as sexual violence by UK hospital staff against psychiatric patients "soars." More →

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“How The Military Could Turn Your Mind Into The Next Battlefield”

Interviews in io9 with neuroscientists James Giordano of Georgetown University Medical Center and Jonathan Moreno from the University of Pennsylvania supplement a discussion of the latest thinking about and developments of offensive and defensive tactical "neurosecurity" weapons. More →

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“Can Psychiatrists Stop Gun Violence?”

In the New York Times' Op-Talk, Anna North interviews Jonathan Metzl about his recent study showing how little gun violence and mental illness are linked, and reflects on some of the potential dangers of society's obsession with nevertheless linking the two. More →

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“Warrior Genes” More Fiction Than Science

Writing in the Genetic Literacy Project, David Warmflash discusses a recent study that identified two genes "associated with violent crime." Even though people with those two genes "were 13 times more likely to have a history of repeated violent behavior," Warmflash notes that even the study's own authors cautioned people not to make too much of the finding. More →

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Summer Jobs Cut Youth Violence By Nearly Half Over Long-term

Giving youth from high-violence schools minimum-wage summer jobs reduced their acts of violence by nearly half, and the effects lasted over the long term, according to a randomized controlled study published in Science. Adding cognitive behavioral therapy to the program made the effects neither better nor worse. More →

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The Connections Between Mental Illness and Gun Violence are Very Weak

The links between gun violence, mass shootings and mental illness are very weak, argue two Vanderbilt University researchers in the American Journal of Public Health. "After synthesizing decades of research in psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and journalism, they argue that popular opinion about the links between mental illness and gun violence is often misguided, and, if extrapolated into policy change, even harmful to public health overall," reports Pacific Standard, in an article which includes an interview with one of the authors. More →

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Relatively Few School Shooters Have Diagnosis of Mental Illness

"A survey of school shootings in the United States revealed that only 17% of the perpetrators had a diagnosis of mental illness," reports Medscape. The information was presented by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine researchers at the American Public Health Association annual meeting. There were, however, other common, contributing factors that appeared in the majority of cases. More →

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Michael Brown and the ‘Peer’ Movement

I’ve been arguing against calling this movement that I’m a part of a ‘peer’ movement for a long time. What has happened with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has helped me to crystallize that point. If we do not see what happens to some of us in the psychiatric system as connected to what happens to others because they are black or because they are transgender or because they love someone else of the same expressed gender (or because they live in poverty, etc. etc.), then I’m not sure any of us really, fully understands what it is we are trying to accomplish at all.
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“Is There a Link Between Mental Health and Gun Violence?”

In the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova explores various philosophical and scientific questions -- and reviews some of the recent research -- related to possible links between mental health and gun violence. More →

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