Our hearts were saddened last month as news broke of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School which took the lives of 6 adults and 20 children. This tragic incident involved a gunman who was only 20 years old and apparently labeled with and treated for symptoms that are identified within the DSM-IV as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Many mental health advocates fear misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice, misunderstanding and unjust consequences that could jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of our society’s most vulnerable population, children labeled with autism and other symptoms classified as ”mental illness”.
Parents of children considered autistic are under a terrific amount of stress and in recent years disability advocates have been alarmed by the number of parents who have murdered their children labeled with autism. [1 - 9] Information on the topic of the Sandy Hook incident must be presented in a cautious and responsible fashion.
As a mental health advocate, misunderstanding about symptoms of autism is an issue that I have personal concerns with as a child who I am very close to is labeled autistic and has been the victim of bullying in school. I witnessed first hand how horrific changes took place in the life of this once fun-loving, but very challenging child who at the tender age of 8 was placed on psychiatric medications to control his behavior at the recommendation of a psychiatrist. Because of the known harmful side effects, the psychiatrist would take the child off of the medications during the summer and reinstate treatment during the school year.
By the age of 13, this child was a victim of bullying in school and had become extremely suicidal. Two psychiatric hospitalizations in less than one year were necessary and medication management became a parent’s worst nightmare. Because of the Zero-Tolerance Drug Policy, the child committed a crime and was punished for bringing psychiatric medications to school with the intent of committing suicide.
Medications were constantly being changed and the side effects left the child in a zombie-like state, constantly expressing suicidal thoughts. The parents of this child were billed tens of thousands of dollars for failed treatment in what seemed like the constant torture and imprisonment of their child. It became clear to the family that the best option was to take their child off of all psychiatric medications. When this decision was made, mental health professionals warned against it and called Child Protective Services on the parents. The parents successfully challenged the actions taken against them and have restored their child’s life without the use of psychiatric medications and the promise they would never be used again.
It is a relief to me that this very special child is now living a drug free life. I was thrilled to see the ruling from a Federal Judge in Miami last year that required Medicare to pay for Applied Behavioral Analysis for children diagnosed with autism as this is a step forward for validating the effective use of non-medication alternative treatment. A strong mental health advocacy agenda is desperately needed to help children diagnosed with autism avoid the use of treatments that includes psychotropic medications or shock therapy.
In order to support a mental health advocacy agenda that will ensure the advancement of evidence-based, best practice care in our mental health system, I am a dedicated volunteer for ISEPP.
I am pleased to announce the Board Members of ISEPP have today issued a statement and a press release calling for a Federal investigation into the link between psychotropic drugs and mass murder.
Click here to view today’s Press Release from ISEPP’s board members.
The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) reported in 2011 that the lifespan of people with mental illness is shorter compared to the general population and that there is sufficient evidence that people with a perceived mental illness are less likely to receive the same standard levels of care than those who suffer from physical illness.  The video posted below is an example of a parent’s struggle dealing with the ingorance among mental health professionals regarding the adverse side effects of psychiatric medications on the treatment of autism.
If you are a journalist writing on the topic of mental illness, please consider researching the known adverse side effects of psychiatric medications that are being ignored, overlooked and disregarded by main stream mental health advocates and those seeking gun control as a solution to the increase in mass shootings in our country.
- Expert analysis on a wide range of issues related to mental health, including the impact of mental health theories on public policy, therapeutic practices, individual well-being and personal freedom.
- Special focus on safe and effective approaches to helping persons diagnosed with mental disorders and the evidence which supports them.
- Interviews with national spokespersons, forensic psychologists and technical experts.
- Access to persons who are currently being treated or were previously treated for mental disorders as well as their family members who are willing to share personal stories with the media.
- Comments on breaking news.
1. Disability Advocates Alarmed By Parents Who Kill, March 27, 2012
2. Mothers are killing their Autistic children, Aug 3rd, 2010
3. Millionaire mother claims she killed her autistic son to protect him, 19 August 2012
4. Mom charged in death of son with autism, Published : Thursday, 05 Jul 2012
5. Mother killed autistic son ‘to get rest’, 10 May 2011
6. Sunnyvale mom kills autistic son, self, police say, March 8, 2012
8. Mother kills autistic son by forcing him to drink bleach, 15 Nov 2010
9. Woman in 911 call says she strangled her autistic children, July 22, 2010
11. Physical illness in patients with severe mental disorders. I. Prevalence, impact of medications and disparities in health care, World Psychiatry. 2011 February; 10(1): 52–77.