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In response to the fact that the woman suspected of setting fire to a Paris apartment building on February 4th, in which 10 people died, had only just been released from a ward of the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) issued a warning that this is but another example where psychiatric treatment not only failed a patient but arguably worsened them. Sources said the suspect had been treated at Sainte-Anne for 12 days and that on January 30, six days before the deadly blaze, psychiatrists declared her fit to leave. The woman had been treated a dozen times in psychiatric facilities in Paris over the past decade. [1]

Florida has had its fair share of tragic stories with the most notable being the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, who had never been arrested or had a criminal record pulled an AR-15 from a black duffle bag, and began gunning down former classmates and teachers, killing at least 17 people and injuring 15 others. [2]

Similar to the suspect in the Paris fire, Cruz had a long mental health history. [3]

The usual response to such violence is for psychiatrists and their advocates to say that the Paris woman or Nikolas Cruz should have been detained, detained longer and given more mental health treatment. This misdirects from the real problem. The treatment given to the suspect in Paris for 10 years did not work and may have predisposed her to committing this deadly act. Prosecutors should be investigating the psychiatrists who treated her, and they have a precedent.

In 2012, a French psychiatrist whose patient hacked an elderly man to death was found guilty of manslaughter in a groundbreaking case. A court in Marseilles said Dr. Daniele Canarelli had committed a grave error by failing to recognize the public danger posed by Joel Gaillard, her patient of four years. Canarelli was handed a one-year prison sentence and ordered to pay 8,500 euros to the victims children, in the first case of its kind in France. Gaillard had already been treated on several occasions for a series of increasingly dangerous incidents. [4]

This case should be a precedent in all acts of violence when the accused was undergoing psychiatric treatment at the time.

In 2015, France 5 TV aired the documentary, Dead on Prescription, which pointed to proliferation and dangers of psychotropic drugs, including the propensity to commit violent acts. Such drugs are the mainstay of psychiatric treatment in and outside of hospitals. In France, at least 6 million people were taking antidepressants and 11.5 million took benzodiazepines, such as Valium or Xanax every year. An interview with a Professor Phillipe Even says antidepressants can cause inhibitions to disappear and individuals taking the drugs can commit violent acts. France reportedly has the highest rate of European psychotropic drug use at 19.2 %, compared to 5.9 % in Germany and 7.4 % in the Netherlands. [5] [6]

The documentary interviewed Texas attorney, Andy Vickery, who has been suing pharmaceutical companies over the violence-and suicide-inducing effects of psychotropic drugs for 40 years. Regarding the antidepressant, Prozac, Mr. Vickery said, The first observation is that the person becomes suddenly suicidal. People who never thought of committing suicide or to do evil take one of these drugs and bang! They suddenly pass from this state to the desire of death. The second observation is that the suicides are generally violent ones. The third part of the puzzle, which is common, is the obsession to destroy oneself. It is a sudden impulse which pushes one to make an act of an extreme violence or very dangerous against oneself or against the others. And that submerges, that becomes an obsession and one cannot control it any more. Between the moment when the patient starts to take his pill and that of their death or their suicide attempt, there is an abnormal behavior: something does not go right. And sometimes, the answer of the doctor is: Ah! You need more drugs. The amounts should be increased! Well, let us see! There is a fire, why not add petrol!Whether or not those committing senseless acts of violence were taking mind-altering drugs or withdrawing from them, the increasing reports of psychiatric treatment being in assailants histories warrants closer scrutiny and the t

reating psychiatrists in each case should be investigated. Did they see the warning signs; did they question the role and impact of their treatments on the patient; did they increase the dose of any psychotropic drug? All these are questions that should be asked and answered in any police investigation of violent crimes where the person has undergone psychiatric treatment. 



[1] Paris arson suspect had just been released from psychiatric ward, Borneo Post, 8 Feb. 2019,



[4] French psychiatrist sentenced after patient commits murder, Reuters, 18 Dec. 2012,

[5] Dead on Prescription, France TV 5, 2015

[6] Alexander Grinshpoon, M.D., Ph.D., M.H.A. et al, Psychotropic Drug Use in Israel: Results from the National Health Survey, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2007; 9(5): 356-363,


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