Peter Hitchens thinks antidepressants make you kill people.
Or at least he wants to “urge another line of investigation” into the recent gun massacre in Cumbria, to see whether there exists a link.
Which is pretty deplorable. There’s a great deal of stigma around common mental health issues already. There were 31 million prescriptions written in 2006 for antidepressants, to upwards of 1.5 million people. That’s just in the UK.
And you can see why he’s worried, because from among the hundreds of thousands of sufferers being prescribed medication in this country, the number of them who have gone on dangerous rampages ending in a tragic loss of life is…
Well, there was…
Hitchens names seven notable cases in the US, where even more millions of people are taking prescription drugs, and apparently 1 in 4 adults “will have a major depressive episode sometime in their life”.
In the UK, though, he doesn’t have a single example. Derrick Bird, the recent Cumbria shooter, might have been on antidepressants. There’s been absolutely nothing to suggest it, and no concrete reason to speculate, but really we just don’t know. And isn’t it interesting how the authorities don’t seem to be in any particular hurry to investigate?
In any case, clearly the solution to the UK’s out-of-control problem – in which the rate at which depression sufferers become serial killers might be proved to be greater than 0% – is to stop worrying about gun control so much and re-instate the death penalty, and be more like the US.
Where every single one of Hitchens’s examples was from.
Of course, part of the problem is the way those original cases were reported. As Hitchens points out:
Look carefully at the reports of many of the big US shootings… and you will find that the shooter is described as having been ‘depressed’ and ‘on medication’.
Which is a shame, because it might give the impression to people who read these reports that these facts are in some way relevant.
The implication is that these people being on prescription medication should have alerted their dangerous nature to the authorities, before they had a chance to commit such terrible crimes.
It’s possible that all the notorious killers he mentions also often enjoyed donuts. Maybe if that had been mentioned in the reports, Hitchens would be seeing another pattern entirely and calling for police to storm Gregg’s and arrest everyone immediately.
Anton Vowl wrote about this quicker and more scathingly than I.