News & Politics

Donald Trump Jr. Liked a Tweet Perpetuating a Pro-Gun Myth About Mental Health and Mass Murders

His stance on antidepressants demonizes those with mental health problems.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Thursday night, Twitter users noticed something odd. President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., liked a tweet linking antidepressants to mass murder. While Trump Jr. did not write the tweet, the seeming endorsement through an approving "heart" was enough to tell Twitter users the direction of his thoughts.

The original tweet was posted by ex-"Saturday Night Live" celebrity Rob Schneider, who said, "Why doesn't CNN or New York Times, Fox News report the fact that ALL THESE MASS MURDERERS WERE ON ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS?" At the end of his furious, all-caps tweet, Schneider threw in a hashtag: "#BigPharmaOwnsMedia." Ever since, the SNL comedian's hashtag seems to have encouraged other Twitter users to tweet it as well. The hashtag cloud is getting quite a few entries at the moment.

It isn't clear if Schneider was talking about the Parkland shooter, who used an AR-15 to gun down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Among the slain were students and faculty members, including a geography teacher and a coach. One of the shooter's relatives said he might have been on antidepressants, but law enforcement agencies have yet to confirm this observation.

Even if Schneider wasn't talking about the Parkland shooter, the implications of his remark are dangerous and demonizing to those with mental health problemsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 30 million Americans use antidepressants once at least every 30 days, and rely on prescribed medication to combat depression on a monthly basis. And it goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of these Americans do not commit murderous shooting sprees.

The notion that antidepressants are key in pushing a person to commit violence is more frequently peddled on the far right, which often turns to this false explanation to make sense of mass murders. The fact that guns are easily accessibile or that lax gun laws make violence more possible are routinely ignored.

It may be disturbing to see the president's son openly endorse such a fallacious assertion, but this isn't the first time Trump Jr. has given a thumbs-up to the multitude of unsubstantiated claims peppering the internet. Shortly after the Parkland shooting, Trump Jr. reportedly liked a tweet sharing a conspiracy theory about one of the young survivors, David Hogg. If anything, Trump Jr. seems to enjoy feeding his appetite for the baseless and false.

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Mehreen Kasana is a news writer. Previously, she worked as the front-page editor for the Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @mehreenkasana.