Loose Screws Mental Health News

Anti-smoking pill drug Chantix has been linked to mental illness, according to Attorney Daily.

Chantix’s safety is currently under fire, as similar stories of patients with suicidal thoughts, depression and aggressive behavior surface. The FDA received reports of 37 suicides and 491 cases in which people had suicidal thoughts. The FDA also said it “appears increasingly likely that there is an association between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms.” An estimated 5 million people use the drug.

How scary is it that people are having mental health issues related to non-mental health drugs?

Steven Kazmierczak, the shooter at NIU, wrote about his problems with mental illness in his graduate school applications. He said he hoped he could be an encouragement to others. I find this interesting that he wrote about his struggle with mental illness considering that at the time, there appeared to be no official record of him having a mental illness.

Last but not least, here’s news that would make the TAC proud: Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, a medical sociologist from Duke says that people suffering from mental illness are three times as likely to commit violent acts than "normal" people. To his credit, he adds:

“It’s also correct to say that the large majority of people with mental illness don’t commit violent behavior,” he said.

Further down in the article, WRAL Health Team Physician Dr. Allen Mask answers where all the violent acts come from if not from the mentally ill.

“Dr. Swanson says that if we could eliminate drug and alcohol addiction, we would see violent crime go down by a third. We also have the issues of people being abused as children and children growing up in violent, impoverished environments. They’re at greater risk of becoming violent adults,” Mask said.

Maybe I’m wrong here but isn’t substance abuse classified as a mental illness?

College shooting: Part 45,656

I don’t like this idea of college shootings becoming commonplace. I think there have been three or four major college shootings since the Virginia Tech incident.

Steve Kazmierczak, an alumnus of Northern Illinois University, went ballistic shooting up a geology class and killed five students before killing himself. The AP article sums up Kazmierczak’s demeanor:

Unlike Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui — a sullen misfit who could barely look anyone in the eye, much less carry on a conversation — Kazmierczak appeared to fit in just fine.

The AP article cites that he "stopped taking [his] medication." It appears that he had no record of mental illness at all. He applied for and legally obtained a gun after a background check.

The issue of mental illness in these school shootings is constantly brought up. While I don’t dismiss the unstable mental health of Cho or Kazmierczak, I can’t help but wonder what this means for the rest of us who struggle with mental illness. If I tell someone that I have bipolar disorder, does that mean I’m likely to commit homicide and suicide despite the fact that I have a bubbly, outgoing, and talkative personality?

The link between mental illness and these school shootings will only continue to fuel the stigma relating to mental illness. Despite the fact that the majority of people who suffer from mental health problems are nonviolent, the minority who are violent will get the press coverage and become poster evidence for people like the TAC.