Shootings like the one Wednesday at Fort Hood by an Iraq war veteran struggling with mental health issues are indicative of an "epidemic" in the United States, says Dr. Scott McFarland, medical director of Emergency Management Technologies.
"Mental health catastrophes have reached epidemic proportions in this country. One-third of the patients that come into the emergency department are on some sort of mind-altering medication, prescribed or otherwise," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman, J.D. Hayworth, and Andi Tillis on "America's Forum" Thursday.
"Thirty years ago, teenagers didn't come into our emergency department on anti-depressants. There is a prolific use of mind-altering drugs, theoretically to enhance people's self-esteem, their confidence. I don't know if all the people in these shootings were on medication, but who knows the side effects of these drugs. Are we taking somebody who's miserable and turning him into a monster? I really don't have that answer, but I do know that there's an unusual amount of mind-altering drugs."
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McFarland maintained there is a strong correlation between some mental health drugs and suicide.
"Now you have a little bit more energy, but you're still frustrated, you're still confused about life, you're still angry at one issue or another, but now you have the energy to do something about it, and a lot of people choose to end their anguish by killing themselves," he explained.
McFarland said that is one reason he supports the Baker Act, which allows for the involuntary institutionalization and examination of an individual.
"I find great fault with the military that still lets these people who may be suffering from all kinds of mental illnesses —schizophrenia, bipolar disease, deep depression —and now they've got a firearm at their disposal to do something about it. And particularly now, they've got automatic weapons to take other people with them to end this confusion and horrible suffering that they go through every day."
Asked how he would advise the Veterans Administration on mental health facilities, McFarland replied, "Everyone needs to be encouraged to discuss their mental health issues. If you feel bad, then you have to have somebody to talk to about it."
"Military has the best opportunity because they can tell their soldiers what to do. If they think you have to be restricted to your barracks or seek counseling on a regular basis, you know, for six weeks, two months or whatever it takes until we think that you're stable enough to get back into service."
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