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Will the real murderer please take this young man’s place behind bars?

From the April 2008 Idaho Observer:


On April 18, I received a short letter and a simple trifold from Zach Schmidkunz. Zach, now 24, was sentenced in 2004 to serve 35 years in a North Dakota prison for murdering a friend while under the influence of selective serratonnin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug "Zoloft" manufactured by Pfizer. Something inside me was moved--to tears. As I sat down to write Zach a letter, his trifold was open to his low-tech reproduction photo to the right of my keyboard and each time I glanced at it, tears would well up anew in my eyes. After completing the letter and addressing it to the ND state prison in Bismarck, I checked the Internet and found that all of the articles depicted Zach as a "good-kid-gone-bad" who deserved to be thrown away as a murderer. The only online image of Zach was the mugshot taken of him shortly after he turned himself in. It is not very flattering and, in a very real sense, is not the kid in the trifold picture. The real Zach comes through the trifold photo; Zoloft Zach comes through the mug shot.

Below is the trifold that prompted my tears and desire to help Zach bring awareness to a growing problem in America: Growing numbers of SSRI-related suicides and murders AND the prosecution of capital crimes cases wherein the defendant was under the influence of these "anti-depressants." The problem is compounded when you see how Pfizer effectively transforms the state into an accessory to the crimes of those who manufacture, approve for market and prescribe these drugs by supplying "persecutors" with a document known as "The Pfizer Manual for Litigators. This drug manufacturer-lawyer-produced document is given to state persecutors to instruct them on how to beat what is called "the Zoloft defense" in court by, in essence, stating there is no "science" to support, claims by the defense in court that Zoloft compelled someone to commit a capital crime.

Isn’t the FACT that Pfizer supplies persecutors with this damage-control document a tacit admission that there is a problem? Is it not the epitome of prejudice for the court to believe Pfizer/persecutors over defendants when Zoloft or other SSRI drugs are involved in a murder—particularly when, as in Zach’s case, the "murderer" was a good kid who never got in trouble and was liked by everyone his entire life until this Zoloft-induced incident took place?

Friends, neighbors, concerned citizens and everyone else who has contact with other people, you should be concerned. SSRI drugs are being prescribed like candy to the children, adolescents, young adults, adults, middle-aged persons and the elderly as if we are in the middle of a depression epidemic. According to the latest data, the number of "anti-depressant" prescriptions written by U.S. doctors in 2007 was 232.7 million in 2007—an increase of 25 million since 2003. These drugs react badly with numerous other commonly consumed-substances such as other drugs, alcohol and aspartame.

Now, after reading what Zach has to say and what his father has to say about what happened, put yourself in their shoes: What if you were the kid who had been, by all accounts, a "good kid" your whole life and then, in a moment of Zoloft-induced rage, killed your friend? What if you were the father or the mother who raised a good kid who loved his sister, loved his parents, got good grades and was a joy to be around--suddenly flipped and is now in prison for a period of time that will likely outlive you?

By now, we have ALL been touched by SSRI drugs. Some of us have horror stories and we KNOW what they can do to people.

Now for my final "now in this missive: Look around you and quantify the numbers of others who may end up killing someone else—or themselves—due to their mind/body/spirit reaction to an SSRI drug like Zoloft. How much longer are we going to tolerate courts taking the side of an industry that produces and prescribes drugs that set our neighbors up to commit murders that we know, in our hearts, would never have been committed had the "anti-depressants" not been involved?

Before I go, I would like to state that there are plenty of reasons for us, as Americans, to be depressed. I believe that there are biochemical factors that exacerbate depression to the point that drugs seem like the only way to overcome our depressed emotional states. It is my rather vast experience in this area that allows me to state, with absolute certainty, that if you help a depressed person clean up their diet, their depression lightens.

There is a lot more to be said in this area, but just suffice to say that, taking a wholistic approach to depression, minimizes (rather dramatically) the likelihood that a depressed person will harm himself or someone else.

With hope and prayers for Zach, his family--and our increasingly drugged nation--

Don Harkins
The Idaho Observer

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