The same psychiatric drug linked to the Las Vegas shooting massacre, in which at least 58 people were killed and 489 wounded, is linked to two of the highest-profile shootings in U.S. history: the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting.
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was prescribed diazepam, sold under the brand name Valium, in June and purchased the drug the same day it was prescribed, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Diazepam was also prescribed for John Hinckley Jr. before his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Hinckley’s lawyer has said Hinckley’s mental condition deteriorated while taking the drug, and he believes the diazepam made Hinckley more dangerous.
In 1966, in the first mass shooting to rock the nation, Valium was prescribed to Charles Whitman, the University of Texas Tower shooter, who stabbed his wife and mother to death the night before climbing a tower on the UT campus and gunning down passers-by, killing 15 and wounding 31.
Diazepam is supposed to treat anxiety, but it can have the opposite effect. When it does, the side effects include increased anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, delusions, nightmares, hallucinations, instability, rage, and psychosis, according to FDA-approved drug information.
Paddock’s girlfriend reportedly described behavior to investigators that indicates Paddock was suffering, possibly from such side effects. She said he would lie in bed, moaning and screaming, “Oh, my God,” according to a former FBI official who was briefed on the matter.
Diazepam belongs to the drug class benzodiazepine.
Peter Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist who has been involved in criminal and civil cases related to a number of mass murders, writes: “For decades, it has been known that benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax and Klonopin can cause impulsivity, disinhibition, or loss of self-control resulting in violence.”
A link to violence was found in a 2010 analysis of side-effects data from the Food and Drug Administration’s adverse event reporting system. Diazepam was identified as one of the 31 prescription drugs most linked to acts of violence reported to the FDA.
We do not know how the psychiatric drug(s) Paddock was prescribed may have caused or contributed to his monstrous killing spree and the self-violence of taking his own life.
But we do know that the Las Vegas massacre joins a long list of shootings committed by perpetrators with a history of psychiatric drug “treatment.”
Two of the deadliest shooting rampages with links to psychiatric drugs happened here in Colorado: at Columbine High School in 1999 and at an Aurora movie theater in 2012.
Only by fully investigating mind-altering psychiatric drugs’ known links to violence and homicide can we hope to prevent such tragic bloodshed in the future.
Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.