The news media has assigned much blame for the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., including inadequate gun laws, parents, the local sheriff’s department, the FBI, and mental health. They all share some of the blame, but I think mental health is a significant factor.

There was an interesting article in the Ask the Doctors column last week addressing marijuana use and the connection to psychotic episodes. According to the article this occurs mainly in people with an AKT1 gene. These episodes, especially schizophrenia, seem to be increasing. Worse yet the onset of schizophrenia occurs mainly among young adults.

Once the onset occurs, the family seeks medical help. The most common treatment is the use of antidepressant, anti-psychotic, and anti-anxiety drugs. Studies have shown that these drugs can cause suicidal ideas, violent and manic behavior and aggression. Individuals usually commit these shootings with intentions of committing suicide. It seems like some individuals with psychotic episodes taking these drugs would be a ticking time bomb. It is interesting that during the last 20 years the use of these drugs, suicides and mass shootings have all increased. The suicide rate in the US has increased twenty eight percent during this period.

I think two solutions might help prevent further events like this; do a full history on these individuals’ recreational and prescription drug use to better profile the typical shooter, and encourage states to rethink legalizing Marijuana.

Brian Blue

St. Simons Island

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