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Columbine shooter was prescribed anti-depressant

CNN | April 29, 1999

Reports surfaced Wednesday that one of the gunmen in the Littleton, Colorado, school shooting, Eric Harris, was rejected by Marine Corps recruiters days before the Columbine High School massacre because he was under a doctor's care and had been prescribed an anti-depressant medication.

Harris' prescription was for Luvox, an anti-depressant medication commonly used to treat patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It is one of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).


Other SSRIs are Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Prozac is the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant in the United States.

Serotonin is a chemical released in the brain that can affect mood and behavior. SSRIs work by enhancing the brain's ability to use serotonin.

These drugs are typically tested for safety and efficacy in adults but are also widely prescribed to children and teen-agers. Doctors make dosage adjustments based on the patient's weight.

Luvox is generally prescribed to patients whose obsessions or compulsions cause them distress, consume time, or interfere with their daily activities.

American Psychiatric Association President Dr. Rodrigo Munoz said there is no specific link between these drugs and violent behavior.

"Despite a decade of research, there is little valid evidence to prove a causal relationship between the use of anti-depressant medications and destructive behavior. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that undiagnosed and untreated mental illness exacts a heavy toll on those who suffer from these disorders, as well as those around them," Munoz said.

It is not known if Harris actually took the medication, and investigators said Wednesday early toxicology tests performed by the medical examiner's office showed no evidence of drugs or alcohol in the body of either gunman, Harris or Dylan Klebold.

"The final reports from the coroner have not been made and given to us. However, like I've said, I'll have to revert to what they told us about the toxicology reports earlier, and that is that there weren't any drugs or alcohol in the blood, and, once again, I didn't hear her say illegal drugs or legal drugs," Jefferson County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Davis said.

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