Gun Laws & Legislation

Forbes withdraws online essay blaming psychiatric medications for Sandy Hook shooting

Photo of David Martosko
David Martosko
Executive Editor

An online conspiracy theory suggesting that psychiatric medications are the main cause of many mass-shootings dominated an opinion column on Forbes magazine’s website Monday, only to disappear hours later.

Larry Hunter, chairman of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s Revolution PAC, wrote the essay. He told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that the financial news outlet removed his column from its website because readers complained that he cited sources affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

Forbes published the column at 8:00 a.m. Monday under the headline “Psychiatric Drugs, Not A Lack Of Gun Control, Are The Common Denominator In Murderous Violence.” Shortly after 1:00 p.m., Twitter users began noting its sudden absence.

Hunter claimed in his column that ”in virtually every mass school shooting during the past 15 years, the shooter has been on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. … the kinds of guns used by mass shooters are far less relevant than the kinds of drugs they were prescribed.

He provided a link to “a partial list of 24 such horrific events that occurred since 1998, not including the Virginia Tech shootings and the recent Sandy Hook shootings where the authorities continue to suppress information about whether and to what extent the shooters were on or in withdrawal from a psychiatric drug.”

“According to the Citizens Commission On Human Rights International (CCHR),” Hunter continued, “between 2004 and 2011, there were 12,755 reports to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch system of psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects including: 1,231 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide, 2,795 cases of mania and 7,250 cases of aggression.”

Hunter told TheDC that the story “was taken down after a reader made [a] wise crack about [the] CCHR cite.”

That complaint focused on the fact that CCHR is an affiliate of the Church of Scientology, a cult-like religion known for excoriating the practice of psychiatry as counterproductive and harmful to human health.

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard co-founded the organization in 1969, shortly after he first declared publicly that the field of psychiatry should be eradicated entirely. In addition to school shootings, CCHR has blamed psychiatric medications and other treatments for the Holocaust, the 9/11 terror attacks and Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

CCHR also operates a Hollywood, Calif. museum named ”Psychiatry: An Industry of Death.” Among the museum’s exhibits is a display claiming Adolf Hitler’s master plan included the use of psychiatry as a tool for mind-control.

“I was not aware that the group was affiliated with [the] Church of Scientology,” Hunter told TheDC in an email, “but even if I had been, I still would have used it as a reference for the statistics I used since I have always found the statistics they cite to be accurate.”

“I would not have hesitated to use the cite,” he added, “any more than I hesitate to cite the Washington Times, when appropriate, which is owned by the Unification Church.”

Several online forums noted that Hunter’s column was removed from the Forbes website. “Why did Forbes pull this?” asked a reader of the left-wing Democratic Underground website Monday evening.

The same question, word for word, appeared an hour later on RonPaulForums.com. That website deleted the thread Tuesday evening.

Hunter’s essay also relied on a YouTube video that he wrote “reveals the indisputable connection between psychiatric drugs and violence, especially young ‘lone-wolf’ shooters in gun massacres.”

That video appears on a YouTube channel affiliated with healthcanadaexposed.com, a website owned by a Canadian nutritional supplement company called Truehope. The company produces a multivitamin and mineral pill that it claims can outperform prescription drugs in treating depression and bipolar disorder, and counsels its customers to discontinue their medications while taking the supplement, called Empowerplus.

Canadian health authorities have pursued legal action against the company since at least 2003, claiming that it lacked a license to dispense what is, by its own description, a medication to treat psychiatric disorders. That year, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided a Truehope telemarketing call center and seized computers and files.

In a 2010 decision, a Canadian federal court judge ruled against Truehope, which had hoped to quash the search warrant involved in that raid. The company is appealing that ruling.

Health Canada, that nation’s public health agency, reported in 2007 that at least nine Emplowerplus users had developed “serious medical conditions” after taking the supplement.

“Most of the adverse reactions,” Health Canada wrote, “relate to worsening of psychiatric symptoms in those patients with serious underlying mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder and depression.”

And in July 2012, a Canadian court ruled that a schizophrenic man who stopped taking his antipsychotic medications when he attempted to treat his own condition with Empowerplus was not criminally responsible for killing his father. According to court testimony, Jordan Ramsay believed his parents were aliens when he attacked them both with a hammer and a wrench.

Truehope president Anthony Stephan told CBC News in July that “[a] number of people have used this protocol for schizophrenia and have been extremely successful.” He did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment.

Within hours of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Dec. 14, a Forbes online editor emailed a directive to the website’s contributors.

“In light of the horrific news out of Connecticut today we ask that you show restraint when posting,” Forbes.com assistant producer Samantha Sharf wrote. “Please respect the people affected if writing about the events. Any posts dealing with the shooting must be approved by your editor. Anything posted without approval will be spiked from the site.”