CCHR Observes 25th Anniversary of Columbine Mass Shooting with Call for Government Investigation into Link Between Psychiatric Drugs and Violence

Mental health watchdog also calls for laws requiring toxicology testing for psychiatric drugs for perpetrators of mass shootings and other serious violent crimes so the full extent of the risk of violence from antidepressants can be known.

Washington, DC, April 18, 2024 — As the 25th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting approaches, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is calling for a long overdue government investigation into the link between psychiatric drugs and violence.  READ MORE


Citizens Commission on Human Rights Calls for Congressional Investigation into Psychiatric In-Patient Treatment, as Study Finds Suicide Risk High after Hospitalization for Depression or Attempted Suicide

Recent studies indicate patients discharged from psychiatric facilities are at greater risk for suicide than mental health patients not hospitalized, suggesting that psychiatric hospitalization itself may be a major risk factor.  Antidepressants used as treatment during hospitalization are also linked to an increased risk of suicide.

Washington, DC, March 7, 2024 – The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) National Affairs Office is urging Congress to investigate after a new study has found that patients released from psychiatric hospitalization for depression or attempted suicide are at the highest risk of completing suicide in the days immediately following their hospital discharge.   READ MORE

General News

Exercise is as Effective as Antidepressants or Psychotherapy in Reducing Depression, Study Finds

Researchers conclude exercise is effective in treating depression and should be offered as an evidence-based treatment option.

The largest synthesis of data to date from research studies on the effect of exercise on depression found that exercise is as effective as antidepressant drugs or psychotherapy, the current first-line treatments for depression, and should be offered as an evidence-based treatment option. The study provides evidence for exercise as an alternative treatment for depressed individuals who do not want drugs or psychotherapy.

“This is notable as the presented results suggest exercise [qualifies] as an efficacious treatment option for depressive symptoms among individuals with depression.”

— Andreas Heissel, PhD, University of Potsdam, Germany

Researchers from seven countries set out to address the problem of the mixed results from previous meta-analyses of studies on the effect of exercise on depression. Convincing evidence was needed to enable clinicians to prescribe exercise as an evidence-based treatment option. Using updated methodology to overcome the shortcomings of previous meta-analyses, researchers analyzed the results of 41 randomized controlled trials comprising 2,264 depressed adults and compared exercise with non-exercising control groups.

Their review, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed exercise has a large effect in reducing depression symptoms. For every two depressed people treated with exercise, at least one would be expected to have a substantial reduction in depression symptoms, the researchers found.

This significant benefit was found regardless of the type or intensity of the exercise or whether done in a group or not. Aerobic exercise was more effective than resistance training, but both delivered large benefits. Moderate intensity was more beneficial than light or vigorous intensity, but all reduced depression symptoms. Supervised and group exercise were found to deliver more positive effects than unsupervised and non-group.

“The findings from this review represent the most up-to-date and comprehensive meta-analysis of the available evidence and further supports the use of exercise focusing specifically on supervised and group exercise with moderate intensity and aerobic exercise regimes,” according to the study’s lead author, Andreas Heissel, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department for Sports and Health Sciences at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

The large positive effect on depression symptoms from exercise compares favorably with the results from two meta-analyses referenced in the study, one showing just a moderate effect from psychotherapy and the other showing only a small effect from antidepressants, according to Heissel.

Exercise also avoids the side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with antidepressants and the significant expense of psychotherapy.

“This is notable as the presented results suggest exercise [qualifies] as an efficacious treatment option for depressive symptoms among individuals with depression,” wrote Heissel.

The prescribing of antidepressants was questioned in another recent study, published in Molecular Psychiatry in 2022, that found no scientific evidence to support the theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain, a common rationale for prescribing antidepressants. [1]

“The serotonin theory of depression has been one of the most influential and extensively researched biological theories of the origins of depression,” wrote lead researcher Joanna Moncrieff, a psychiatrist and professor at University College London. “Our study shows that this view is not supported by scientific evidence. It also calls into question the basis for the use of antidepressants.”

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) continues to raise public awareness of the risks of serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs, so that consumers and their physicians can make fully informed decisions about starting or stopping the drugs. CCHR supports safe and science-based non-drug approaches to mental health.

CCHR recommends a complete physical examination with lab tests, nutritional and allergy screenings, and a review of all current medications to identify any physical causes of depression or other unwanted mental and emotional symptoms, which might otherwise be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder and incorrectly treated.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and the late psychiatrist and humanitarian Thomas Szasz, M.D., recognized by many academics as modern psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, to eradicate abuses and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health. CCHR has been instrumental in obtaining 228 laws against psychiatric abuses and violations of human rights worldwide.

The CCHR National Affairs Office in Washington, DC, has advocated for mental health rights and protections at the state and federal level. The CCHR traveling exhibit, which has toured 441 major cities worldwide and educated over 800,000 people on the history to the present day of abusive and racist psychiatric practices, has been displayed at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, and at other locations.


New Study Shows High Number Of Suicides After Electroshock

In another psychiatric treatment failure, a new study shows electroshock fails to prevent suicide, with over 800 deaths within a year in those receiving it. As with patients prescribed antidepressants, those receiving electroshock have been misled that electroshock corrects imbalanced brain chemicals.

Please read the complete article here.

General News

Study Concludes that Depression is NOT Caused by Low Serotonin Levels

According to CCHR International:

A landmark study has debunked one of the biggest mental healthcare marketing campaigns in modern history—that a “chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression” requiring antidepressants to correct it.


General News

Could Lead Exposure Underlie Your Child’s “ADHD”? Study Says Under the Age of 6, Chances Are 50/50

Half of the youngest U.S. children have detectable levels of lead in their bodies, which can go untreated if behavior problems are only diagnosed as “ADHD.”

By CCHR National Affairs Office

The importance of checking for possible lead exposure in children whose behavior is labeled as “ADHD” is underscored by a recent report showing that half of U.S. children under the age of 6 were found to have detectable levels of lead in their blood, a condition known to cause hyperactivity and inattentiveness.

The study from Quest Diagnostics and published in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed blood lead tests from 1.1 million children under the age of 6 living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia over the 17 months through February 2020.  Most of the children (71%) were under 3 years of age.

The analysis revealed that 50.5% of the children tested had detectable levels of lead in their blood, despite years of lead reduction programs in the United States.

Children in poorer areas and areas with older houses are at the highest risk of lead exposure.  The study found that 60.2% of children living in areas with the highest level of poverty had detectable blood lead levels, as compared to 38.8% of children in areas with the lowest levels of poverty.  More children from predominately African American and Hispanic areas (57.6% and 56%, respectively) were found to have detectable lead levels than predominately white areas (48.7%).

Lead is a toxic metal, known to cause serious health and mental health problems, especially in young children whose bodies are in a state of growth and development.  Additionally, the absorption of lead occurs more quickly in children than in adults.

Despite progress in reducing sources of lead exposure in the United States, lead is still found in the paint dust in older homes, schools and other buildings, and in older water pipes, the soil and air around heavy industry and highways, and some consumer products.  Young children breathe lead dust or touch and put contaminated objects into their mouths.

The CDC says that approximately 24 million housing units have significant lead-based paint hazards, including deteriorated paint and lead-contaminated house dust.  About 4 million of these are home to young children.

No safe level of lead exposure in children has been found.  Even the lowest levels of lead in children can cause brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development, hearing and speech problems, and memory and learning difficulties.

“The first signs of lead poisoning in children are often subtle neurobehavioral problems that adversely affect classroom behavior and social interaction,” according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the CDC.

The physical effects of lead in a child’s body can cause the child to become hyperactive or inattentive, behavior that can result in the child being labeled with “ADHD.”  The “diagnosis” of ADHD is inexact and completely subjective and includes behavioral criteria so broad that they could be found in any child.  A child’s behavior resulting from lead exposure is likely to be found in the wide-ranging “ADHD” criteria.

At higher lead levels, behavior can worsen, with children refusing to play and showing aggressive and antisocial behavior – behavior for which they potentially can be labeled with still other “mental disorders.”

With the psychiatric labels comes the increased likelihood of children being prescribed powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs that carry many dangerous, even life-threatening side effects.

The psychiatric drugs side effects database of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) currently lists 34 drug regulatory agency warnings and 32 research studies showing adverse effects for children under the age of 18 from the stimulant drugs typically prescribed for “ADHD.”

Those side effects include slowed growth, high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, hostility, anxiety, psychosis, mania, violence, and sudden death.  The psychostimulant drugs also carry the risk of addiction, with experts referring to them as “kiddie cocaine” because of their many similarities to cocaine.

The risk of these adverse effects from taking “ADHD” drugs potentially compounds the physical difficulties a child with lead exposure is already enduring.  The child’s life is further endangered if the true diagnosis of lead poisoning is missed, and only a “diagnosis” of “ADHD” is given for the child’s behavior.  Therefore, it is important for health providers and parents to consider a blood lead test for a child whose behavior is a cause for concern.

If lead is detected, parents can take action to help their child.  The CDC offers recommendations for what parents can do to lower their child’s lead level, starting with making a plan with the child’s physician, which may include more testing for the child.

Parents should take immediate action to find and fix any lead hazards in the home.  A home inspection should be done by a licensed lead inspector.  By removing lead sources, lead levels should drop noticeably in the child’s blood in a month or two, according to Joel T. Nigg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University.

The CDC recommendations also direct parents to feed their child healthy foods that contain calcium, iron, and vitamin C, which are protective against lead absorption, and to have the child tested for possible iron deficiency and insufficient dietary calcium.

“For the potentially lead-exposed child, adequate intake of iron, calcium and vitamin C, beyond their requirement for overall good nutrition, can specifically minimize absorption of ingested lead,” says the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention of the CDC.

The levels of lead in a child’s body can be reduced by taking these steps, with corresponding improvement in the child’s physical and mental health.

CCHR has long recommended that children experiencing behavioral problems should get a complete physical examination with lab tests and nutritional screening to discover any underlying physical conditions that could be causing the behavior.

With the latest study revealing that so many children have detectable levels of lead in their bodies, parents would do well to discuss with their physicians whether their children should be tested for lead exposure.  Now is a perfect time to do so, with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week starting on October 24.

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by a mental health practitioner or psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

General News

Human Rights Group Welcomes World Health Organization’s Stand Against Dehumanizing Involuntary Psychiatric Treatments

WHO cites no proven benefit, but significant evidence of harm from coercive mental health treatments, including forced drugging, restraints, and electroshock.

By Citizens Commission on Human Rights, National Affairs Office

New guidelines for mental health services issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) are a strong call to action for United Nations (UN) member countries, including the United States, to take bold steps to ensure that their mental health services are free from coercion, including forced drugging, the use of physical and chemical restraints and seclusion, and involuntary institutionalization.

WHO’s rejection of nonconsensual mental health treatment echoes the long-time advocacy of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to end involuntary treatment and harmful psychiatric practices and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.

A series of reports issued in June by WHO emphasize that coercive mental health practices are used “despite the lack of evidence that they offer any benefits, and the significant evidence that they lead to physical and psychological harm and even death.”

“People subjected to coercive practices report feelings of dehumanization, disempowerment and being disrespected,” WHO states.  “Many experience it as a form of trauma or re-traumatization leading to a worsening of their condition and increased experiences of distress.”

WHO’s call for an end to involuntary mental health treatment extends to those experiencing acute mental distress.  WHO notes that individuals in mental health crisis “are at a heightened risk of their human rights being violated, including through forced admissions and treatment….  These practices have been shown to be harmful to people’s mental, emotional and physical health, sometimes leading to death.”

CCHR’s co-founder, Thomas Szasz, M.D., a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry considered by many scholars and academics to be psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, agreed.  “The most important deprivation of human and constitutional rights inflicted upon persons said to be mentally ill is involuntary mental hospitalization,” he wrote.

The UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), signed in 2006, lays out the right to liberty and security for the disabled, including the mentally disabled.  This right also challenges the coercive treatment legally allowable under involuntary commitment laws, even when “justified” by criteria like “a need for treatment,” “dangerousness” or “lack of insight.”

Beyond involuntary commitment, WHO points out that additional rights in CRPD to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse also prohibit coercive practices, including seclusion, restraint, and administering psychiatric drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychosurgery without informed consent.

The WHO reports lay out a vision of holistic mental health services, as contrasted with today’s narrow focus on the diagnosis and drugging of individuals to suppress symptoms, a mental health approach that results in “an over-diagnosis of human distress and over-reliance on psychotropic drugs.”

Additionally, WHO states that a series of UN Human Rights Council resolutions have called for a human rights approach to mental health services and for nations to tackle the “unlawful or arbitrary institutionalization, overmedication and treatment practices [seen in the field of mental health] that fail to respect…autonomy, will and preferences” of those seeking to recover from mental health challenges.

Years ahead of the WHO reports, Dr. Szasz advocated an end to forced psychiatric treatment, writing: “increasing numbers of persons, both in the mental health professions and in public life, have come to acknowledge that involuntary psychiatric intervention are methods of social control.  On both moral and practical grounds, I advocate the abolition of all involuntary psychiatry.”

As a human rights organization and mental health industry watchdog, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has exposed and campaigned against the abusive use of involuntary institutionalization and psychiatric treatments given without consent, including forced drugging, restraints, and involuntary electroshock.  CCHR’s Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights enumerates the rights we believe each individual is entitled to in the mental health system.

CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and Dr. Szasz to eradicate abuses and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.

General News News for Colorado

Denver Psychiatrist Charged with Wrongly Prescribing Drugs

Denver area psychiatrist Howard Weiss has been indicted on 120 federal charges that include allegations he prescribed higher doses of psychiatric drugs without trying lower doses or alternative treatments first.  At least one of his patients died of an overdose, according to the indictment, although he is not charged in that death.

He is also charged with prescribing addictive drugs to already-addicted patients and prescribing high doses of benzodiazepines to patients taking opioids, a combination of drugs that could prove fatal.

According to the Denver Post, the indictment alleges that Weiss prescribed pills — including amphetamines such as Adderall and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium — to patients at dosages that were too high and without exploring other avenues of treatment.

The indictment alleges that, in one three-month period, one patient was prescribed 9,000 Adderall pills, 480 pills of the muscle relaxant Soma and 480 Xanax tablets.

Weiss has a criminal history.   According to the disciplinary document  on the Dept of Regulatory Affairs (DORA) website, in 1995 Weiss was suspended from practice in the State of Virginia after conviction on federal charges involving filing false and fraudulent billing claims of in-patient psychiatric services. He served his sentence of probation and paid a fine and restitution, and his license was later reinstated in Virginia.

Weiss was granted a license to practice in Colorado in 2003. In 2019 he once again faced disciplinary action after the Colorado Medical Board reviewed information that Weiss “simultaneously prescribed multiple controlled substances in high doses to multiple patients” and “permitted patients to make determinations regarding their prescription medications despite clear evidence of abuse or misuse.”  He was found by the Board to “pose an immediate risk to the public health, safety or welfare” of the citizens of Colorado.  In an emergency action, his license was once again suspended.

If you are concerned about the psychiatric drugs prescribed to you or a loved one, discuss it with your doctor. You can also research psychiatric drug side effects here.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

If you or anyone you know has experienced harmful side effects from psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.


Summertime… and Psychiatric Drugs Can Put You At Risk

Here in the West, we got a taste of summer heat in June and there is surely more to come. Be aware that if you are taking psychotropic medications, you are at special risk to heat effects and should know the steps you need to take to stay safe. Individuals with chronic medical conditions (i.e., heart and pulmonary disease, diabetes, alcoholism, etc.) are especially vulnerable.

No matter what the temperature is outside, psychotropic medications affect the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. But during a heat wave, individuals taking antipsychotic medications are especially at risk of developing excessive body temperature, or hyperthermia, which can be fatal. You should know the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke and what to do if the heat starts getting to you.

First of all, there are simple precautions you can take:

  • Try to stay cool:
    • Stay in air-conditioned areas if possible. If you do not have air conditioning at home, go to a shopping mall or public library.
    • Keep windows shut and draperies, shades, or blinds drawn during the heat of the day.
    • Open windows in the evening or night hours when the air outside is cooler.
    • Move to cooler rooms during the heat of the day.
  • Avoid overexertion and outdoor activity, particularly during warmer periods of the day.
  • Apply sunscreen and lotion as needed.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol).
  • Dress in loose fitting, light colored clothing. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Eat regular meals to ensure that you have adequate salt and fluids.

Understand the risk of the drugs you take. Psychotropic drugs have specific warnings from the manufacturer to avoid excessive heat and dehydration. If you have questions, check with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

If you or anyone you know has experienced harmful side effects from psychiatric drugs, [we want to talk to you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Stay safe this summer!

General News

Juneteenth: Time for American Psychiatric Association to repudiate slave-owning “Father of Psychiatry”

More than 175 years after its founding, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued a public apology in January for psychiatry’s “role in perpetrating structural racism” and said it hoped to make amends.

Here’s a suggestion to the APA: repudiate and discontinue all symbolic association with Dr. Benjamin Rush, the slave-owning “Father of American Psychiatry” who is responsible for the “scientific racism” at the very root of the structural racism in psychiatry that the APA now says it regrets.

And what better time to cut psychiatry’s ties to Rush than on America’s first nationwide celebration of Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Until 2015, a seal with the image of Benjamin Rush served as the APA’s logo, and the APA still presents a Benjamin Rush award at its annual meeting.

The man in whose honor this APA award is bestowed bought a child slave, William Grubber, in the early- to mid-1770s, scholars believe, and owned him for some two decades.  Rush released Grubber from slavery in 1794, only after receiving, in his words, “a just compensation for my having paid for him the full price of a slave for life.”  In other words, Rush made sure he got his money’s worth from his slave before allowing him to go free.

However, Rush’s transgressions against African Americans go far beyond the human rights abuse of enslaving another human being.  He established a supposed biological justification for racism, setting a precedent for later psychiatrists and psychologists and their subsequent forms of “scientific racism” to oppress Blacks.

In 1792, Rush declared that Blacks suffered from a disease he called “negritude” that he theorized was caused by a variant of leprosy, the cure of which was when Blacks’ skin turned white.  Rush based his view in part on the work of another scientist who had applied a harsh and corrosive acid to the skin and hair of an African American man to turn him “white.”

With his view, Rush believed Blacks should not intermarry with other races because this supposed disease could infect their children.

Rush considered that African Americans were able to easily endure surgical operations and pain, labeling this “pathological insensibility.”

America’s first psychiatrist also treated his patients  with darkness, solitary confinement, and a special technique of forcing the patient to stand erect for two to three days at a time, poking them with sharp pointed nails to keep them from sleeping – a technique borrowed from a British procedure for taming horses.  He invented the “tranquilizer” chair into which the patient was strapped hand and foot, along with a device to hold the head immobile.

Benjamin Rush was apparently unable to recognize the human rights abuses he was committing.

By failing to disavow him, the APA may be revealing that it is as blind to human rights abuses as Rush was.