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Are Grisly Knife Crimes Associated With SSRI Antidepressants?


It was a crime to jolt the most jaded TV News watchers. Last week, a 14-year-old girl in a Chicago suburb allegedly stabbed her 11-year-old half sister 40 times, killing her. News reports say the 14-year-old was angry over an argument the night before, set her alarm, got a kitchen knife and entered her sister's room.

The suspect allegedly uttered that the younger girl was not thankful for what she had done with each stab wound, said police. The older sister's unappreciated services included cooking dinner, doing the 11-year-old's chores for her and keeping the household running, said news reports.

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The stabbing comes a little over a year after another shocking Chicago area stabbing. Elzbieta Plackowska in the Chicago suburb of Naperville was charged with fatally stabbing her 7-year-old son 100 times and fatally stabbing a 5-year-old girl she was babysitting. Plackowska felt her husband "truly did not appreciate how fine a wife and mother she was," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "She told the detectives that she thought by killing (her son) Justin she would make her husband hurt the way she hurt in their relationship," reporters were told. Plackowska also stabbed the two family dogs to death.

Are there two psychiatrists somewhere out there wishing they had not prescribed SSRI antidepressants, linked to such bizarre violence, to the suspects? We will probably never know. But bizarre knife murders - excessive, inexplicable and without clear motive - are increasingly associated with the widely-prescribed drug class which includes Prozac, Luvox, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro and Celexa. Bizarre violent acts are also associated with SNRI antidepressants (which include Effexor and Cymbalta) the antismoking drug Chantix and Lariam, an anti-malarial still in use in the military.

"The kind of energy, rage and insanity seen in a lot of crimes today was not seen before SSRIs appeared," Rosie Meysenburg, founder of the website SSRI Stories told me in an interview shortly before her death. "There are two cases of women on the SSRI Stories site who stab a man close to 200 times and a case of a man who stabs his wife over 100 times and then goes next door to the neighbor's house and stabbed the neighbor's furniture about 500 times."

"Multiple stab wounds can indicate rage as well as dissociation," University of South Florida criminology professor Kathleen Heide told the Chicago Tribune about the recent sister stabbings in Chicago. "That's why a (risk evaluation) is critical. Is this person aware of what she's doing?"

Stabbings are not the only bizarre violence seen under the influences of SSRIs, Meysenburg told me. "There are also cases of kleptomania, pyromania and a strange kind of nymphomania in which women school teachers molest their minor male students," she said. Meysenburg founded the SSRI Stories website after experiencing severe side effects from being prescribed an SSRI herself.

The site includes many examples of people setting themselves on fire, biting their victims and elderly offenders not traditionally associated with violent crime. Besides unlikely offenders and weapons, the crime stories recounted on the website often lack a comprehensible motive like the two recent cases in Chicago. A Midwest City, Oklahoma woman accepted a cup of tea from an elderly nurse she'd just met, in one crime report cited, and then strangled her. A 12-year-old boy stayed in his cousin's car while she shopped at Target and killed her 5-week-old daughter while she was gone. All the cases on the site involve people under the influence of SSRIs, as reported by news outlets.

Of course, lethal stabbings are not a new occurrence in US history. The spectacular 1966 murders of eight nurses in Chicago by Richard Speck were committed with a knife. And who can forget Lizzie Borden who was tried and acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892? (Though her "40 wacks" were from an axe not knife.)

Still, more than 5,000 murders and bizarre violence have been linked to SSRIs in news reports and often, if the crimes sound too extreme to be true without a medical explanation - they are. Despite the large evidence database, Big Pharma has denied, hidden and downplayed the side effects to get its money's worth. Watch for an admission that the drugs do cause violence when all the patents have run out.

Learn more about the dangers of popular prescription drugs by reading Martha Rosenberg's award-cited expose Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flacks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health (Random House) Support investigation journalism.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health Read more stories by Martha Rosenberg.

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