Police Say Kahane Suspect Took Anti-Depression Drugs —(New York Times)

SSRI Ed note: Engineer on Prozac shoots and kills Rabbi. Menial work blamed. Research shows 8% Prozac users at risk for mania, violence, suicide, docs don't believe this.

To view original article click here

New York Times


Published: November 9, 1990

Law-enforcement officials said yesterday that the man accused of killing Rabbi Meir Kahane was under psychiatric care and taking drugs for treatment of depression.

“We are told by family members he was taking a prescription drug for or consistent with depression,” Chief of Detectives Joseph R. Borrelli said of the suspect, El Sayyid A. Nosair, last night.

Another law-enforcement official identified the drug as Prozac, a widely used drug for depression. This official said Mr. Nosair was taking “three or four” kinds of medicine, but declined to name the others.

Mr. Nosair, a 34-year-old Egyptian-born immigrant devoted to strict Muslim religious practices, is charged with killing Rabbi Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League here and a power on the far-right fringes of Israeli politics.

Prozac, which was once hailed as the “wonder drug of the ’90’s” and became the most widely prescribed drug for depression, is a subject of mounting reports that it may actually spark violent or suicidal behavior in some patients.

At Risk for Mania

Its manufacturers are facing many lawsuits charging that patients became far more hostile, despairing and uncontrollable than they had ever been before, mutilating themselves, attempting suicide or developing homicidal tendencies.

An article published in February in the American Journal of Psychiatry predicted that up to 8 percent of Prozac users may be at risk for mania, obsession with suicide and dangerously violent behavior.

Nevertheless, many psychiatrists continue to use Prozac, saying they doubt it poses a risk of violent behavior. Dr, Paul Leber, the director of the division of neuropharmacological drug products for the Food and Drug Administration, said, “To date, we don’t see anything about this drug that is associated with an increased risk” of violence or suicidal tendencies.

Mr. Nosair also may have been suffering lingering effects of an industrial accident he suffered in 1986, in which an electrical shock left him with a large burn mark on his left hand and difficulty in using his left leg.

Detectives speculated that one factor in Mr. Nosair’s outlook may have been that, although he graduated with an engineering degree from Hilwan University in Egypt, he had not found work commensurate with that status.

“The impression we’re getting is that he had menial jobs here,” Chief Borrelli said. “He couldn’t fulfill his potential. He had a serious accident at work that crippled up his legs. He didn’t see any future.”

Malcolm Rice, Mr. Nosair’s supervisor in the courthouse at 111 Centre Street, where he worked on the air-conditioning system, described Mr. Nosair as very reticent, a loner, and a man devoted to his religious practices. He would not listen to music and he spread out a rug or a piece of plastic twice a day during work to perform his prayers at the appointed hour, and often read the Koran during breaks.

Mr. Rice said Mr. Nosair read foreign news every day, closely following events in the Middle East. When “By Way of Deception,” a new book purporting to reveal the practices of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, was published, Mr. Rice said, Mr. Nosair rushed to buy a copy.

At his home, Mr. Nosair maintained files of newspaper and magazine stories about the Middle East.

The police, meanwhile, said they had been able to raise the serial numbers of the Ruger .357-magnum revolver used in the shooting, which had been filed off.