Is CCHR Credible?

Trigger warning: this article contains descriptive information about suicide.

Scientology’s front group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, CCHR, claims it is “a nonprofit charitable mental health watchdog organization established by the Church of Scientology in 1969, is dedicated to eradicating psychiatric abuses and ensuring patient protections.”

Recently it held an event in which it claimed that school shootings are caused by mental health medications. The event initially stated it would link “90 shootings, stabbings and bombings” to one common denominator; psychiatric pharmaceuticals.

While the majority of time was spent on the evils of the mental health community and most especially on Big Pharma, no real mention was made of the 90 violent events beyond one brief presentation slide containing 5 school shootings.

CCHR does however have a list on their website.

Confusingly titled 12 Recent School/Teen Shooters Under the Influence of Psychiatric Drugs the list actually has 13 bullet points and includes 14 school shooters.

Considering Scientology’s track record when it comes to truth an examination of their claims was deemed necessary.

Of the 14 shooters alleged to have been under the influence of mental health medication the following was found:

Steven Kazmierczak– CCHR claims “…he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

Kazmierczak tried to commit suicide 9 times before he turned 18 years old. According to Northern Illinois University Department of Public Safety February 14, 2008 Investigative Summary, “As a result he underwent psychiatric treatment and was intensely scrutinized. Steven was heavily medicated with a combination of antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and mood stabilizers. In August of 1998 Steven again attempted to commit suicide by slitting his wrists.” This shows Steven had suicidal ideation whether medicated or not.

The report goes on to say that Steven had a medically documented history of refusing to take his medication. On top of this Kazmierczak is also recorded as having abused Marijuana even while in a mental health treatment facility.

That Steven only had “trace” amounts of Xanax in his system speaks to his non-compliance in refusing to take his prescription.

Pekka-Eric Auvinen- “…had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more…”

Finland’s Ministry of Justice released an Investigative Report on the Auvinen shooting which states on page 51 “During the incident he was not on alcohol, medication or other drugs.”

Seung Hui Cho– (The Virginia Tech Shooting) CCHR says “The psychiatric drug history of Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech Massacre was never made public. Initial reports stated that ‘depression medication’ was found among Cho’s belongings. But neither his toxicology reports, nor his medical history were ever released to find out whether Cho had been in withdrawal from psychiatric medication.”

In fact, the Virginia Tech Review Panel’s report to Governor Kaine is easily available online at the above noted link. This report includes the following:

No drugs

This report also notes in Chapter IV, page 47 that in 2005, two years before the shooting, Cho was admitted to a psychiatric facility after commenting “I might as well kill myself”. Upon his admittance he was administered 1 mg Ativan. There is no further record of any other doses beyond this one. 2005 is apparently the last time Cho took such medication.

As for the “depression medication” noted by CCHR found amongst Cho’s belongings, it was actually a prescription for acne.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold– Scientology’s list of shooters states “ 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s autopsy reports were never released.”

Both links above take one to the autopsy reports that Scientology claims were never released. There were “no drugs detected” in Klebold’s system. Given that only one of the pair was on medication it seems difficult to prove CCHR’s claim that mental health pharmaceuticals are the cause of all school shootings.

Kip Kinkel“…Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac.”

As noted in our earlier blog post, Dr. Langman, Ph.D notes; “Kip Kinkel was not on Prozac at the time of the shooting, he had been on Prozac for three months the summer before his attack. By the time he went on his rampage, however, he had been drug-free for eight months.”

In fact, Langman goes on to state; “When Kinkel was on Prozac, he was less depressed and less angry. His psychologist’s notes from the summer preceding the attack document that both Kinkel and his mother reported sig- nificant improvement while he was on Prozac. In fact, Kinkel described the summer he was on medication as a ‘wonderful time’ and the ‘best summer ever.’ Based on these reports, it appears that rather than causing his attack, it was more likely that the absence of Prozac was a factor in his rampage because he was more depressed and angry without the medication.”

A bit of digging shows that 5 out of the 14 shooters were not on psychiatric medication at the time of their crimes. Of the 9 remaining youths mentioned on CCHR’s list, given the degree of serious mental issues, even outright psychotic tendencies, each was afflicted with the question can legitimately be asked whether these violent acts would have happened in any case.

Cavalierly announcing to the world that school shootings are caused by prescription mental health medications is both erroneous and irresponsible. The subject is so complex and fraught with so many variables that even the most experienced of scientists are still learning.

There is nothing “charitable” about using misleading information. Rather Scientology’s front group is engaging in dangerous fear mongering that very well could result in someone not getting the help they need.

Presenting anything less than the facts destroys trust and calls into question CCHR’s credibility. There is no good whatsoever that comes from deceit.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health challenges please do everything you can to seek help.

You matter.

Note: we were able to record a portion of the CCHR event however it should be noted that Scientology’s Zoom quality was atrocious in some places. The video can be seen here.

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