Article on psychoactive medications and mass murder
We do have to recognize a few things here:
1. The causation may be inverted. Mass killers tend to be seriously mentally messed up, so it would be foreseeable that most of them would be on medication. With millions of people taking one drug or another, the odds of mass killers falling among that group is going to be quite high. We might be more surprised to find a mass killer who *wasn't* on medication.
2. In most cases, the medication works as intended. But in a minority of cases it has psychatric side-effects. It can take a bipolar who is depressive right now and flip him to manic. Also a person may be so deeply depressed that they are unable to act. Even suicide requires a decision, and in that state would represent hope, and the person is so deeply depressed that they can't act and can't even think of hope. At some stages in their return, they may pass thru a belt where they are able to act, and still depressed enough to want to kill themselves (or others). And there are problem areas, such as the risk that Ritalin, if given to a bipolar, can push them into psychosis. A psychiatrist is likely to be alert to these matters, but GP may not be. (I note that one of the killers in the article was receiving Valium, which GPs sometimes use as a general-purpose psychoactive medication, even tho it's a muscle relaxant with incidental calming effects).
The person's treatment has to be monitored with alertness to these risks. A small minority of cases still represents a significant number when millions of people are involved. A 1% risk equals tens of thousands of cases, so even a fraction of one percent is a serious risk to the public.
3. The details also show the problems of government health care. When Medicare or other government sources fund the treatment, they often require prescription of older generations of medicines, which have more risk of side-effects than newer ones. The name of the game is keep health care costs down, and the agencies who pay for the results of the side-effects (local courts and agencies funding care for the committed) don't go into the equation because it's somebody else's budget.
[Hat tip to reader The Mechanic]