School Shooters and Psychotropic Medications

A/Prof Ryan Hall3, Prof. Susan Hatters-Friedman1,2, A/Prof Renee Sorrentino4

1Case Western Reserve University , Cleveland, USA, 2University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 3Barry School of Law, Orlando, USA, 4Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

While the media, and social media, have asserted that most people who have committed school shootings were prescribed psychotropic medications, data was lacking. Along with colleagues, we reviewed publicly available information regarding these American perpetrators per FBI publications for active shooters, news reports, official reports, court records, and Freedom of Information Act requests. We also considered location, number of weapons used, number of victims, legal outcome, and whether the shooter committed suicide. Available data suggested that most school shooters were not previously treated with psychotropic medications. Even among those who were treated with psychotropic medications, no causal or direct association was found with the shootings.


Susan Hatters Friedman, MD is currently the President-elect of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL), and has served as Chair of the Law and Psychiatry committee at the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP).¬† She recently was awarded the American Psychiatric Association’s Manfred Guttmacher Award for editing the book ‘Family Murder: Pathologies of Love and Hate.’ She currently serves as the inaugural Phillip Resnick Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, wit additional appointments in Paediatrics, Reproductive Biology, and Law. Dr. Friedman also continues to serve as honorary faculty at the University of Auckland.