On 20 March 2013, Stephanie and John‘s lives changed in a way they could never have imagined. This is the true story of their son who was prescribed the antidepressant drug Prozac.
An intelligent young man with an IQ of 146, he was popular amongst his friends with everything to live for. Jake had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and had been seeing a psychologist on a regular basis for over a year.
Having discussed his own unique thoughts with the psychologist, he was referred to another practitioner. He had been waiting to see an Occupational Therapist so Jake’s parents assumed this was who he would be seeing.
It was not until the day of the appointment that they found out the practitioner was a psychiatrist. Jake’s mum Stephanie couldn’t be at the appointment so his dad John was with him. John recalls how the psychiatrist took approximately 10 minutes to prescribe Prozac. She had never met Jake before. She didn’t enquire about his life or his interests or that he was concerned about his up-coming mock examinations, but she prescribed Prozac.
John voiced his concerns about the medication but the psychiatrist allayed his fears, getting him to sign a consent form for his son. Looking back, John says the psychiatrist didn’t tell him of any potential risk associated with the antidepressant or that Jake could suffer suicidal thoughts as a result of taking the drug. There was no mention in Jake’s medical record of such a conversation taking place.
On 20 March 2013, Stephanie was wondering why Jake hadn’t appeared for his supper. She shouted to him but there was no answer. She experienced a feeling no mother should have to go through, as she recalled Jake asking her earlier in the day if he could get the gun and practice holding it. He and his mum were members of the local gun club.
That was Jake’s last evening at home with his family before his funeral.
At the inquest into his death, Stephanie found the strength to speak about her beloved son. Her words resounded in favour of fully informed consent. “No mother in her right mind would let their child have a drug that can cause suicide and self-harm.
“Who in their right mind, if you are suffering from anxiety and dark thoughts, gives you stuff that has the same side effects? It’s the answer to everything nowadays, here’s your prescription, knock yourself out.”
At the conclusion of the inquest, the coroner returned an open verdict, where a coroner’s jury affirms the occurrence of a suspicious death but does not specify the cause. Stephanie said it was the verdict Jake deserved because in the eyes of his family, his death was drug induced.
Stephanie and John want others to know their story, especially other parents in a similar position. They don’t want Jake’s death to be just another statistic, but a watershed where fully informed consent becomes law, enabling fully informed decisions to be made.
Stephanie has just returned from Chicago where she was one of many who gathered to support Wendy Dolin at the start of a trial where an antidepressant was prescribed to her husband who then committed suicide.
She has also been on television, radio and in print media to raise awareness of the dangers of antidepressants in the hope that other parents can be informed, and in the hope they do not have to bury their son or daughter.
CCHR UK wants to thank Stephanie and John for sharing their story.