Sunday, September 18, 2011

David Healy and Robert Whitaker address suicide rate in New Zealand

I'm passing on this e-mail from Vince Boehm and video link that I received in my maibox today via ISEPP.

"Risk of suicide" was one of the many reasons given by my son's psychiatrists for wanting to keep him on medications, not that he was suicidal, but because "statistics show that people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have an increased risk for suicide during the first five years after diagnosis."  I always felt that the specter of suicide was invoked often for the wrong reasons -- not because patients were suicidal, but in order to keep them meds compliant. I was being made to feel irresponsible by continuing to inisist that my son was unlikely to commit suicide and I would prefer to work with him in non-drug interventions. The problem is, how do one ever really know that someone else is or is not suicidal?  That's where I feel drug companies have gained the advantage. You don't know, and nobody wants to assume the risk, so medications are prescribed as some sort of "insurance policy."

People can and do commit suicide while on meds and when off meds, so it's kind of murky to now whether the meds would have prevented it or caused it. On the other hand, there is valid scientific concern about the effect of antidepressants on suicide ideation in children and teenagers because antidepressants are being used off-label and little to no research had been done for this age group before this practice became widespread.

Here's the e-mail from Vince Boehm about the video link:

CASPER (Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education & Research), the New Zealand organization organized by two mothers who lost children to suicide, invited two of our prominent list members to present at their conference this past month.   New Zealand has the highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD, twice the rate of the US and Australia and five times the rate of the UK. More young people in New Zealand die of suicide than all medical causes combined, with 10% of the deaths of New Zealand's 10-14 year-olds being suicides.

David Healy is an Irish psychiatrist who is a professor in Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University School of Medicine, Wales.  He became the center of controversy concerning the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on medicine and academia. For most of his career Healy has held the view that Prozac and SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) can lead to suicide and has been critical of the amount of ghost writing in the current scientific literature.

In his segment of this compelling video, Healy delivers a powerful indictment of suicide and violence caused by psychiatric meds. Robert Whitaker is a friend and a former medical writer at the Albany Times Union newspaper.  In 1992, he was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT.  Following that he became director of publications at Harvard Medical School. In 1994 he co-founded a publishing company, CenterWatch, that covered the pharmaceutical clinical trials industry. CenterWatch was acquired by Medical Economics, a division of The Thomson Corporation, in 1998. His articles on psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry have won a George Polk Award for Medical Writing. and a National Association of Science Writers' Award for best magazine article. In 1998, he co-wrote a series on abuses in psychiatric research that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. He is the author of four books. His most recent book is Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. His Mad in America has become a classic and belongs in your library.

These two books are destined to be mental health's Silent Spring, the book that launched the environmental movement.


  1. Rossa,

    As you know, recently Marcia Angell, M.D. made a call for psychiatry to show that the drugs work. A call that will not be answered, because they do not.

    Now it appears there's a call to show that these drugs reduce the risk of suicide. That call will not/cannot be answered as well. Because they do not reduce the risk of suicide.

    The science is not there.
    Neither is the math.

    I would encourage anyone to go through the suicide statistics - in their country, state or region of choice. Look at the numbers and show a reduction in suicide. It can't be found.

    And it will never be found.
    Because the numbers aren't there.


    Psychiatric drugs are not safe.
    They are not effective.
    They cause more harm than good.



  2. Rossa,

    One of the things that makes me sick is to hear psychiatrists point blame at the drugmakers, as if what they do has no bearing on the injury that's taking place.

    I read it on the blogs of psychiatrists who want to keep one foot in the conventional model, and the other foot in the reform movement.

    They pretend to want to change the system, while they do nothing to stop the harm. They keep practicing their own madness.

    I liked what Whitaker said in this video:

    "I do not think psychiatry as a profession (I'm not talking about individuals) have been honest story tellers for the past 30 years. They've told us a chemical imbalance story that is not true. They've consented to the spinning of data... which is a way of lying to the public, lying to their colleagues, when you publish data in this false data."

    I say, "Psychiatry is dead."
    It committed suicide.



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