# Are over 90% of school shooters on anti-psychotics?

The video The Truthseeker: Schools, Guns & Drugs claims that over 90% of "school shooters" were on presciption drugs (voice-over) or anti-psychotics (subtitles).

It seems to me that it would be hard to provide backing for such claim. They also do not state whether this statistic is only for schools in US or in the entire world.

I wonder if this is even remotely true and how did they come to their conclusion. It's just online media, so I'm highly skeptical.

• Hello Xitcod17, this feels like a distinction without a difference, neverthless, you are right, what began as a critical problem for a small percentage of prospective clergy is reaching alarming levels. +1 for the question, -1 for the bad claim, = 0! – Carlo Alterego Jan 12 '13 at 12:57
• Oh my... That video is full of misinformation, to put it mildly. Not that we shouldn't have a serious talk about psych meds, but not with scare tactics like this. – Sam I Am Jan 12 '13 at 18:37
• Just a comment to those who might view correlation as causation: In his book Listening to Prozac Kramer makes the point that if someone on Prozac did something bad, maybe it's because they got too much of it, and maybe it's because they got too little. – Mike Dunlavey Jan 14 '13 at 20:56

A German science blogger has been trying to collect some data regarding world wide school shootings (or killing sprees on schools in general, not necessarily with guns) [1]. He makes a very interesting point in that he says, that there are (luckily) not enough school shootings to make a statistical statement of any significance.

Let's say 90% of school shooters have been on anti-psychotics, until now there is not enough data to say, that it is not a coincidence. And another red flag would be if there had been made no distinction between causation vs. correlation.

• Maybe most school shooters are unhappy and that's why they get prescription drugs/anti-psychotics.
• Maybe prescription drugs/anti-psychotics lead to school shootings.

Such a statement without putting it into context is highly suspicious in any case.

# Regarding the Data

The actual Data of mentioned science Blogger, Marcus Anhäuser, consists of, to this point, 65 entries [2]. Most of the data comes from different Wikipedia articles some more from articles and sites about school shootings and violence at school. Check out link [1] for more details, try Google translate if you can't read German.

Anhäuser doesn't make any conclusions at this point, just pointing to some emerging patterns. (I summarize his statements, this is not specifically targeted against the statement that anti-psychotics are a reason for school shootings)

• Almost all killing sprees seem to happen in the USA, Germany and China.
• In China less people get killed, maybe because the actors use melee weapons.
• It seems like this is a recent phenomena (starting in the 70s), but maybe that's just because data from earlier incidents is missing

Finally he emphasizes, that this data is definitively not conclusive, since his list is incomplete.

A Google Maps visualization gives an overview over the different incidents [3], generated from the data in [2].

• Wow! People don't (generally) get prescribed anti-psychotics because they are simply unhappy!! – Sam I Am Jan 12 '13 at 18:11
• I hope you are right. I guess it depends on how unhappy you are, imagine you are about to kill yourself, I imagine you might get anti-psychotics prescribed. Anyway it's not specifically about anti-psychotics as the questions states presciption drugs (voice-over) or anti-psychotics (subtitles).A short look into Wikipedia also suggests that so called antipsychotics do actually get increasingly described for non-psychotic disorders. – LeoR Jan 12 '13 at 20:09
• There is a huge difference between being simply unhappy and suffering from a mental illness. As far as major depressive disorder is concerned, while anti psychotics are increasing being prescribed for it, they rarely the first line of treatment, that would be SSRIs. – Sam I Am Jan 12 '13 at 20:34
• I'm relying on google translate, and I'm not very good at comprehension, but where does citation 1 state that there's not enough data for statistical significance? – Andrew Grimm Mar 28 '13 at 23:46
• Also, given how rarely anti-psychotics are given, I find it hard to believe that it'd be difficult to reach statistical significance. Even if the 90% figure was 9 shooters out of 10, that'd probably be statistically significant. – Andrew Grimm Mar 28 '13 at 23:50