Aaron Alexis, the US veteran who fatally shot twelve people and injured three at the Navy Yard Sea Systems Command in Washington DC on September 16, 2013, had been prescribed the powerful antidepressant Trazadone.
The drug is linked to a wide array of side effects including suicidal tendencies, panic attacks, depersonalization and anger. Trazadone also carries an FDA “black box” warning for suicide, and has been documented to cause mania and violent behavior.
It has also been directly identified in a number of murder cases, including one mass shooting.
After confirming that Alexis was prescribed Trazodone by the Veterans Affairs Office, the Washington Post published a short article downplaying the risk of the drug, and quoting Miami physician Gabriela Cora, who remarked, “Honestly, it’s a very safe drug to use.”
Trazodone is marketed under the brand names Desyrel, Oleptro, Beneficat, Deprax, Desirel, Molipaxin, Thombran, Trazorel, Trialodine, Trittico, and Mesyrel. Although not strictly classified as an SSRI antidepressant, it functions like an SSRI by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Alexis also dealt with PTSD, blackouts and anger issues years before treatment from the VA. It is thus unclear whether he was taking more than one anti-depressant drug at the time of the rampage.
“Navy Yard Shooter Was on Anti-depressant Trazodone,” PressTV, September 20, 2013, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/09/20/324976/navy-yard-shooter-was-on-trazodone/.
Kelly Patricia O’Meara, “Navy Yard Shooter Was on Antidepressant Trazodone—How Many More Drug Induced Shootings Until Lawmakers Wake Up?” Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, September 18, 2013, http://www.cchrint.org/2013/09/18/navy-yard-shooter-was-on-antidepressant-trazodone/.
Student Researcher: Roderick Howard (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)