The media is now reporting details about the 18-year-old who shot and killed nine and wounded many others before killing himself on July 22 in Munich. My clinical and forensic experience leads to a distinction among people who murder under the influence of psychiatric drugs. Those who kill only one or two people, or close family members, often have little or no history of mental disturbance and violent tendencies. The drug itself seems like the sole cause of the violent outburst. On the other hand, most of those who commit mass violence while taking psychiatric drugs often have a long history of mental disturbance and sometimes violence. For these people, the mental health system seems to have provoked increasing violence without recognizing the danger.
A screenshot of the Facebook of the Oregon shooter, taken by a colleague of mine before the site was taken down, has the following comment from the shooter: “Chris Harper Mercer, August 16: I have a pill bottle with like five types of pills mixed in. I don’t know which ones are the sleep aids, so I just took four of each.” Once again, we have a shooter who has been through the “mental health” system and has probably been taking drugs.