New Minister should look at psychiatric drugs and their link to suicides

It’s a poor reflection on current psychiatric practice that a Suicide Prevention Minister has to be appointed by the Prime Minister to tackle the situation regarding suicides.

Such an appointment begs the question: what are psychiatrists doing with the large amounts of public funding that are supposed to be for those in need of assistance and for those who may be thinking of taking their own lives?

One possible answer revolves around the psychiatric treatments themselves. Psychiatrists have been prescribing psychiatric drugs in copious amounts for decades, drugs that are known to cause violence, aggression and yes, suicide thoughts and suicidal behaviour. Patient Information Leaflets for all antidepressants have carried warnings about the dangers of the drugs since 2008 but despite these warnings, prescription rates have continued to go up.

In 2017, 67.5 million antidepressant prescription items were dispensed in England compared to 22 million in 2000. The cost of antidepressant drugs over that period was £5.2 billion. That’s a massive cost to taxpayers. But for what? It’s been said before but it needs to be said again – that’s good business for drug manufacturers but its bad medicine.

Psychiatrists however blame the person’s mental troubles, pointing to the manufactured mental illness or psychiatric label as the reason for the suicide. This is an attempt to avoid responsibility for having authorised the use of a mind-altering drug known to have potentially serious consequences. It is a travesty of justice that they have been able to get away with this operating basis for so long.

The Suicide Prevention Minister should know that over a 25-year period, there were 19,943 drug poisoning deaths related to benzodiazepine drugs, antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants.

If one of the new Minister’s functions is to help remove the stigma surrounding suicide, it would also be helpful to ensure people are fully informed before they start taking psychiatric drugs.

Having the opportunity to make a fully informed choice could lead to people making different decisions, which may ultimately have an impact on suicide figures. It would also be worthwhile if the Minister looked into how public funds are being spent by the mental health sector. If psychiatrists are supposed to be helping people who are suffering with mental troubles, they are failing.

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