Psych Crime Reporter

April 7, 2011

Polícia Civil do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro Civil Police) need to check the shooter’s medicine cabinet

Twenty-three-year-old Wellington de Oliveira, a former student of the Tasso da Silveira primary school, in the town of Realengo, was at his former school earlier today on the apparent pretense of delivering a talk to a class when he opened fire on them mid-speech, killing 11 children and wounding 13 others.

If you ‘ve been following this story, you may have seen the news item in which one survivor/bystander remarked “Are we in the United States?”

As we have learned in the U.S. (as well as Finland and elsewhere), the people who commit these kinds of school murders and other mass shootings are often on a psychiatric drug or withdrawing from it–either condition has been known to make a person psychotic.

Some facts:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that antidepressants can cause suicidal ideation, mania and psychosis.
  • The manufacturer of one antidepressant, Effexor, has even warned that the drug can cause homicidal ideation.
  • In October 2006, a study came out in the Public Library of Science-Medicine journal, conducted by Dr. David Healy, director of Cardiff University’s North Wales department of psychological medicine, which found that the antidepressant Paxil raises the risk of violence.  Though the study focuses specifically on Paxil, Healy reasoned that other antidepressant drugs like Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft, most likely pose the same risk of violence.  “We’ve got good evidence that the drugs can make people violent and you’d have to reason from that that there may be more episodes of violence,” Healy said.

Other commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs carry similar warnings and side effects.  These drugs include:

  • antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Risperdal, which can cause hostility, violence and suicidal thoughts);
  • tranquilizers such as Xanax and Ambien, which can cause aggressive behavior, hostility, psychosis and rage and
  • stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta, known to cause aggression, mental/mood changes, psychosis and violent behavior.

Since 2004, antidepressants in the same class as Paxil, Prozac, etc. (known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have carried an FDA “black box” warning—the agency’s strongest—stating that the drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and actions in children and teenagers.  The FDA later broadened the warning of a potential increased risk of suicidal behavior to include adults.  The warning calls for the monitoring of patients on antidepressants, especially when the dosage has been changed.

Additionally, eleven of the last “school shooters” were either taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs when they opened fire, resulting in 54 dead and 105 wounded.

These drugs have been linked to many, many other such mass murders and senseless acts of violence.

Hundreds of such cases dating back to the 1980s can be found on the web site “SSRI Stories” (

President Dilma Rousseff, Governor Sergio Cabral, Minister of Education Fernando Haddad, Rio Police and others need to mount a concerted and coordinated effort to find out what drug an/or what kind of psychiatric treatment de Oliveira was on.

They need to ensure that full-range toxicology testing is done which detects not only alcohol and street drugs, but any prescription substance.

They then need to make the results known to a grieving public.


Blog at