Antidepressants and the accountability of prescribers

Whenever a young person dies by suicide, the first thing that anyone should check is whether he or she had been prescribed psychiatric drugs.

The latest tragic and unnecessary death concerns 15-year-old Ceri Sheehan. An inquest in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, heard how Ceri’s electronic devices had been confiscated the night before his death. The focus was put on the fact that his devices were taken away and that an argument had ensued, rather than looking at the psychiatric involvement.

The article later reported Ceri had been seeing Dr Giovoli, a psychiatrist, who had diagnosed him with depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Asperger’s Syndrome. It was also reported that Ceri had attempted suicide with an ‘overdose of pills’ a year earlier.

References to the psychiatric involvement are reported as if an afterthought, when they should be up front and centre. It has become common knowledge that anyone diagnosed with depression is likely to be prescribed antidepressants, drugs which have been linked to violence, aggression, suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviour. The coroner Geoffrey Sullivan concluded that Ceri voluntarily did the act which brought about the end of his life. But what about the possibility that antidepressants, commonly prescribed for depression, may have been causal in the suicide?

It is highly likely Dr Giovoli was and still is aware of the effects of antidepressants. Did he take it upon himself to assist the coroner in bringing about an understanding that these drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviour and may have had a bearing on Ceri’s death? The jury’s out on that question.

This tragic incident is not an isolated case. In 2010, 10-year-old Harry Hucknall died by suicide. He had been prescribed two drugs by a psychiatrist; Ritalin, a cocaine-like stimulant and the antidepressant Prozac.

Then in March 2014, 14-year-old Tom Boomer died when he fell from a multi-story car park. Eleven days before his death, Tom had also been prescribed Prozac. Other tragic cases are listed in the article When do risks outweigh so-called benefits?

For anyone who has listened to the abuses that go hand-in-hand with the field of psychiatry, they have become accustomed to questioning and looking for the psychiatric ‘treatment’ that could have lead to untimely deaths. Psychiatrists invariably blame the death on the person’s condition, or some other reason to exonerate their prescribing habits. Awareness however is increasing to the degree that the public are questioning the effects of psychiatric drugs. It goes without saying that coroners must also be made aware of these effects so they can make decisions that take this information into account.

By continually highlighting the untimely deaths linked to psychiatric drugs, the net is closing in on those who continue to dish out antidepressants. The accountability of prescribers will soon become a reality.

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