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SSRI Link to Violence Revisited After Shooting

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On February 14, 2008, Valentine’s Day, Steven Kazmierczak opened fire on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Kazmeirczak managed to kill five and injure 17 others before turning the gun on himself. There is speculation as to what drove the 27-year old to commit such a heinous act, but some believe the violent episode could have been triggered by withdrawal symptoms from the popular antidepressant medication Prozac. Kazmeirczak’s girlfriend claims that Steven quit taking Prozac about three weeks before the massacre. Some experts believe the intense withdrawal experienced by some when stopping selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) therapy could have been a major contributor to the violent actions that shocked the country earlier this month.

Labeling for SSRI’s include warnings about possible suicidal ideation, anxiety, agitation, irritability, hostility, and aggressiveness among other concerns. A medication guide approved by the FDA also warns of the possibility that users could act “aggressive, being angry, or violent.”

Most of the availible research on SSRIs is focused on Paxil, a similar medication that works in the same way, and has been the subject of controversy for over 20 years now. Paxil has been linked to suicide and birth defects amidst other allegations. Prozac while not as controversial as Paxil has been the target of hundreds of lawsuits of patients claiming to have been harmed by the drug.

Reports claim that Kazmierczak was also taking Xanax, a powerful anti-anxiety medication, and the strong sleep aid Ambien. There is no clear evidence that points to Prozac or any other drug contributing to Kazmierczak’s actions; however, there also is no way to say that these medication had no influence on the tragic events February 14th.