Fíorscéal- The Dark Side of a Pill

I have waited so long for this programme to be publicised. TG4 is an Irish language television station. ‘Fíorscéal’ is known for its brilliant documentaries and this one ‘The Dark Side of a Pill’ is no different. It was repeated last night and includes, among other things, psychopharmacologist David Healy and the terrible story of Kim Crespi and her husband David.

For your sake and for your family’s sake, please, please watch this, so that Shane’s death, along with Tessara, Samantha, Jake, Toran and the millions of others, will not be in vain. To the Irish Govt and Irish psychiatry who are allowing this to continue, the blood on your hands is increasingly showing – let’s hope the Pharma money was sufficient to quench your conscience. You will be exposed …

Thanks to my fabulous friends at tallatrialogue for finding this video.

Crespi Family Hope

 

ITCarlow – My Alma Mater

Justice 1

The Institute of Technology Carlow, my Alma Mater.

So there you have it, after 5 long years and at the age of ‘almost’ 50, I’ve graduated with a LLB from ITCarlow (a 2.1 which I’ll accept graciously). Who’d have though it? Most definitely not I. Graduating the same year as my very talented Graphic Designer son (Congrats Jake), was not the position I’d have have predicted to be in at aged 49 and ¾. Then again, iatrogenic deaths and sharing head-lice lotion with my daughter weren’t on the agenda either, but hey C’est la vie.

Alas, I doubt if I’ll be allowed to wallow in my new-found intellectual prowess for too long – as one of my nonadmirers delighted in saying “she’s no Erin Brockovich, is she?” Quite right too! Nevertheless, I’d highly recommend studying as a ‘mature’ student, even for the older but ‘not so mature’ scholar. It certainly helped to divert my attention from 24/7 ‘iatrogenesis’ and taught me many, many things, not necessarily wholly related to legal academia. Quite an expensive but very effective therapy. While my so-called ‘mad’ friends (the ones with an actual diagnosis), are actually very sane on the Charlie Richter scale, the lecturers on the other hand..

2010

Five years ago I ventured out of my comfort zone as a scared, scarred and grieving ‘40 something’ – as a third level rookie. I had decided on a ‘Foundation in Law’ course in Dublin’s Institute of Technology, Aungier Street, more by accident than any foregone design. Having attended an information evening (and handing over my Visa card), before I could utter “erm, not quite sure…”, I was duly plonked on a chair and photographed. Soon afterwards I found myself standing on the steps of DIT with a student card in hand, complete with obligitory dodgy student photo. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, but when I adjusted to the shock – it turned out to be one of my better decisions (the course, not the photo).

The lecturer, a barrister, took one look at me and formed an opinion – instant dislike. It has to be said she’s not the first and surely won’t be the last. My gravestone epitaph may yet contain the words ‘Mrs Marmite, you either loved her or you hated her’ and this legal instructor just so happened to fit the latter category. Anyway, this became quite the conversation piece with the other students and I was quite content to be the source of this amusement. As I come from a very large family of loud and happy(ish) sibling naysayers, the looks of ‘utter distain’, usually directed at me, effectively made the classes decidedly more entertaining – water off a duck’s back. I thoroughly enjoyed this time in DIT though, particularly those classes. It was a brilliant foundation for the LLB and I loved every second of it, however many ‘loaded glances’ were aimed in my direction.

2011 – 2015

The following four years, while simultaneously arguing the toss with psychiatry and their ridiculous ‘medical model’, I attended ITCarlow’s Wicklow Campus, culminating in today’s results. The beautiful building alone, which was formerly a girl’s boarding school (Our Lady’s School, Clermont), makes it well worth a visit. Martin, the lovely groundskeeper, gave me a personalized guided tour one day, complete with eerie ‘ghostly nun’ story. Coincidentally, I rarely used the facilities again, at least not without a chaperone! I’ll miss Martin’s frendly face and Elaina’s, who along with Mags, ran the Wicklow Campus like clockwork and always, always with a smile.

While ITCarlow lacked in the ‘hostility’ stakes (not even a smidgen for entertainment purposes), it proved equally enjoyable. The lecturers, while ultra-intelligent, did not disappoint and were an interesting and good-natured eclectic bunch. There were also at least a couple who could knock good old King George off his madness pedestal. It should be noted though, there was one issue that disturbed me greatly – my student photo turned out to be even dodgier than the one in DIT.

Scary Emmett O’Byrne gets my vote for eccentricity, as much for his flashes of brilliance as for his entertainment value. Criminal law à la Emmett was a delight, an ‘edge of the seat’ affair. I’d be very happy to have him on my side if I do ever end up being hauled before a judge on defamation charges (and yes, I realize that’s civil law). Having seen him in action in Bray Courthouse: win, lose or draw – you surely wouldn’t get bored.

Another legal eagle, Alan Haugh, who is leaving ITCarlow to take up his new post as Deputy Chair of the Labour Court, gets my vote for being super-intelligent and for making the much-maligned ‘jurisprudence’ surprisingly enjoyable. Although philosophy wasn’t my strongest subject, the Hart-Devlin debate will be fondly and forever engrained into the furthest recesses of my mind. The ‘welcoming orifice’ argument by John Finnis is regrettably similarly engrained. There is no doubt that the Labour Court will be a far better place under Alan’s guidance.

Equally fabulous lecturers such as Cormac, Siobhan and Wayne, made passing the exams a much more likely possibility and again, infinitely more entertaining. My fellow students and ‘colleagues in crime’ were also an absolute delight and thoroughly deserve a mention:

Michael, who has more letters after his name than the German Alphabet and who did the LLB ‘for fun’. Thanks for all the help and the ‘dry’ humour – and for reminding me that employees of Pharma are not all bad – in fact they can be positively lovely. When I grow up I want to be as intelligent (and as kind) as you.

Katie, (previously a UCD scholar), who worked full-time for Arthur Cox while studying for the LLB. Thanks for the ‘young’ perspective, the forthright opinions and the good natured competition. I will always think of you when I see the bold Enda on TV.

Kamil, the dashing Pole, who is taking himself and his legal skills and hightailing it back to Poland. Thanks for the laughs, the fashion and the Polish fags. A trip to Warsaw is most definitely on the cards. Can’t wait to read about you once you become that fabulously flamboyant and brilliant lawyer.

Lastly but not of least importance, thanks to my very special family and the bold husband Tony, aka the sensible half (God help us all), for making dinners and cleaning up around me, while I, on occasion, pretended to be engrossed in the ‘big books’. Now to find something to do for the next five years…

So long and thanks for all the legislation..

Is mise –

Erin Leonie

Ireland’s academics and pharmaco-wha?

Shane and lucy hand

Today is the 1st of June 2015. Despite the huge strides that Ireland has recently taken, most notably in marriage equality, it seems, at least in medicine, we may have officially reverted to the dark ages. Despite wonderful world-renowned experts like David Healy and Peter Gotzsche making huge strides in making medicines safer for us all, three articles today in the Irish Independent shows just how far behind Ireland trails in pharmacovigilance.

You can make up your own mind –

Article 1. 

Two thirds who died by suicide not taking drugs prescribed for them

Professor Patricia Casey, University College Dublin (UCD) – Among the usual defence of the drugs, drugs, and more drugs, she states “Is non-treatment adherence and ultimately suicide an unintended consequence of the (black box) warning? This question cries out for an answer as life itself is at stake.” Eh, this study that Professor Casey refers to was done in Ireland – Ireland doesn’t have a black boxed warning Patricia!

Article 2.

Polarised public debate about anti-depressants deeply unhelpful

Brendan Kelly, also of UCD, decides to ignore the FDA, EU and HPRA warnings altogether. He states “Public debate about anti-depressants tends to be polarised to a point that is deeply unhelpful, especially for people with depression. The truth is that anti-depressants are not the magic bullets that some people hoped. But neither are they the evil little pills they are sometimes portrayed as”. Have you actually read the (drug company) leaflets Professor Kelly or did this come directly from a conversation you had with your colleague Casey?

Article 3.

Parents can be ‘too nice’ to their children when they’re ill, neurologist warns

Dr Suzanna O’Sullivan, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, this time from University College London, takes the proverbial biscuit. She says that “people shouldn’t pay too much attention to side-effects leaflets or they are likely to start experiencing the conditions psychosomatically” and further “Don’t read the side-effects labels on medication too closely… All these symptoms come from something already existing in your mind and your imagination”.

The dark ages – 

Yep, never mind that the victims and their families are saying otherwise, take that pharmaceutical drug company pill or the sky will fall in (and the experts may be out of a job). Interesting that all 3 articles came out today in the Irish Independent. I might be a little optimistic here but maybe we, the victims and their families, are getting somewhere – the feathers of academia seem unduly ruffled today.

These articles come shortly after Professor David Healy’s ‘Medico-Legal society’ lecture at Dublin’s ‘Kildare St and University Club’, which myself and the bold husband had the pleasure of attending. The lecture concerned the dangers of taking prescription drugs, particularly antidepressants, and the legal implications of same. Following his talk, it seemed that many academics within the medical and legal profession are well aware of the dangers, despite what these articles and so-called ‘experts’ in the Irish Independent are saying today. ‘Independent’ being the definition of irony here.

Incidentally, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) Code, which includes pharmaceutical payments to doctors, will come into effect shortly. Transparency issues are about to get much more interesting.

As I was writing this another study was published, a Finnish-Swedish study that analyzed the link between psychotropic drugs and homicide risk. The study here found “that the use of certain drugs that affect the central nervous system are associated with an increased risk of committing a homicide. The greatest risk was associated with the use of painkillers and tranquillizing benzodiazepines, while anti-depressants were linked only to a slightly elevated risk.”  Yep, harmless, whatever you do, don’t read the leaflet!!

Update 02/June/2015

Professor Casey’s article appears in the Indo today ‘Mind and meaning: Antidepressants work‘. As usual, most likely for fear of legal repercussions by Prof Casey, the Indo never allow opposing arguments. My comment didn’t stay up for long and despite my best efforts at truth, I guess my constitutional right to freedom of expression doesn’t override the Irish media’s fear of another legal action by Casey. Comment below..

Comment on Casey's article

Dr Terry Lynch – “Depression Delusion Volume One: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance”

Terry Lynch Book

I’ve been lucky enough to be given an advanced copy of Dr Terry Lynch’s new book ‘Depression Delusion Volume One: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t really aware of just what a privilege it actually was. Terry’s book is ground-breaking, brutally honest and totally unexpected – he pulls no punches. I have never read a more accurate or frank account of the myths surrounding ‘mental illness’, or indeed the acknowledgement that these myths were (and are) pushed by psychiatry, the pharmaceutical industry and misinformed doctors. The ‘chemical imbalance’ mythology has been debunked many decades ago –  yet Irish psychiatry, Irish Medical professionals and Irish ‘mental health’ charities have yet to catch on.

He exposes the usual culprits, the ones who intentionally deceive and the unintentional misinformed ones. What hasn’t been exposed before and what he does with much precision and skill, is the enormous misinformation dispensed by Irish ‘mental health’ charities. He exposes these so-called mental health ‘expert’ groups for what they actually are and why consequently, they are a dubious waste of tax-payers money.

Professor Patricia Casey naturally gets a mention. Following an article she wrote referring numerous times to depression being ‘biological’, he asked her to provide the scientific research that proves her claim. Her reply suggested he “purchase any of the postgraduate textbooks on psychiatry, where he will find a myriad of references to same.” It seems to me that Casey, revered in Ireland as one of our country’s top psychiatric experts, is everything that is wrong within psychiatry today. A dinosaur who bites your head off when you have the audacity to challenge her. I can feel her solicitor’s pen poised and ready for action as we speak.

Professor Casey is not alone. Pushing misinformation on the masses, whether unintentional or not, is rampant in Ireland. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the more recognizable (albeit sometimes unwitting) Irish culprits that Dr Lynch mentions: Vincent Brown, Marian Keyes, Harry Barry, Siobhan Barry, Garreth O’Callaghan, Mary McEvoy and Ray Darcy. Sean Duke, described as a science journalist, is frequently heard on East Coast Radio; he is also exposed for pushing the chemical imbalance myth as fact onto Leinster’s listeners. It comes as no surprise that Dr Harry Barry also gets a mention. You remember Dr Barry, the one who stated “when you take anti-depressants, they work from the bottom of the brain up. When you engage in talk therapy, it works from the front of the brain down”. If these drugs weren’t so dangerous, I might even find the latter amusing.

Aware and Spunout, the high profile Irish ‘mental health’ charities are also ‘named and shamed’ for promoting the falsehood of the chemical basis for depression. Considering the huge governmental funding these charities get, this basic misinformation can never be justified (I have previously tried and failed to inform Spunout of the error of their ways). The UK’s MIND and Rethink are also exposed as fundamentally flawed, by misinforming the very people they are supposed to be helping.

The naming and shaming of these organisations and ‘experts’ is an initial step towards toppling the idiocy which forms the basis of the public’s perception of depression. Dr Terry Lynch takes one brave step for mankind – it remains to be seen whether this book will rock the very foundations of ‘depression’ and ‘mental illness’ as we know it, but I think that it just might.

This fabulous book is a must for everyone who believes that they are suffering from a brain chemical imbalance (an unwitting Bressie springs to mind). Dr Lynch is one very brave man to take on the so-called ‘experts’ in this forthright manner. It’s a David and Goliath situation. Will the truth win out? Is this generation ready to see that the so-called ‘experts’ are in fact philistines? I sure hope so! Huge respect to Dr Terry Lynch for this much-needed exposé. His book is out in September and I look forward to the fall-out. ‘Depression Delusion Volume One: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’ is most definitely a keeper.

By the way, myself and the bold Bobby Fiddaman get a mention on page 115; Dr Lynch has certainly made one Sallynoggin woman smile.

Goosfraba.

Goosfraba

Well what an amazing day it is for Ireland as the same-sex marriage referendum gets underway. Let’s just hope that Irish people see sense and vote for equality for every Irish citizen, not just us Hetro Homo sapiens. There’s a lovely, though heart-wrenching article in today’s Irish Indo, by a dad whose son happens to be gay ‘I laughed along with the homophobic chatter...’

This one’s not about dead people for a change. It’s about a normal week in my possibly (or not) abnormal life. Who defines ‘normal’ anyway?

Well, we’ve had some hilarious times this week in this madhouse we call home. As usual the bold husband who’s a bit of a klutz, has kept us amused. He is one seriously funny man; albeit a reluctant and unwitting comedian. Having tripped yesterday over an oversized set of drawers (no smart remarks please) that I recently purchased, he narrowly missed catapulting through the window. Sadly, I don’t have it on video, or the disgusted look on his face as we fell about laughing. You’ll be glad to hear he’s got over the indignation phase and has grudgingly acknowledged his part in the hilarity. The chest of drawers though didn’t fare quite so well and is now being re-sold; I had to concede that despite its undeniable beauty, it just didn’t bloody fit. I’ll remember it with fondness though.

Despite the merriment of husband-induced laughter, It has to be said that I’m rapidly turning into a female version of Victor Meldrew, a Victoria Meldrew. Even a mundane visit to the hardware shop can prove to be a frazzled affair. Yesterday, as the sun shone down for one of its few appearances of the year so far, I decided that it would be quite nice to have an outside umbrella; the previous one having blown off to some distant land another summer’s day.

So off I toddled to the local hardware and after much dithering over the choice of colours, I chose a lovely green one, complete with concrete stand which I was reliably informed weighed 15 kilos; fabulous, this wouldn’t blow away in a hurry. The cashier was a strapping young fella aged about 20. Once money changed hands, this perfectly able-bodied specimen of a man preceded to avoid my gaze for fear of having to lift the aforementioned 15 kilos to the car, which was parked in full view outside the shop window. Now while I’m actually quite capable of lifting and transporting heavy objects myself and if he had offered I’d have say “no, sure it’s grand thanks. I’m just parked outside”, the fact is he didn’t. So as Mrs Meldrew would have it, I huffed and puffed and made a big scene about lifting my now ‘bought and paid for’ concrete parcel; he turned away feigning oblivion. So I waited and waited and waited for him to eventually make eye contact, whereupon I stated in as loud a voice as possible “I’ll carry this to the car myself then shall I?” Goosfraba, Goosfraba. Where’s the anger management classes when you need one? I then laughed heartily all the way home remembering the indignant look on his face.

Whatever happened to chivalry and good manners? Before anyone points to my previous reference to ‘equality’, it’s not a gender issue; I have happily helped many a delivery driver (usually male) with their heavy products. Are we failing to instil basic human decency into this generation? Either I’m getting grumpy in my dotage or there’s a seriously contagious jobsworth epidemic in Ireland. It should be noted that it’s a rare occurance in Wicklow though and most shopkeeping Wicklowites are perfectly helpful and charming.

Now off to find some new drawers..

Victoria x

Kenneth Beazley

Kenneth Beazley

An inquest this week heard how Kenneth Beazley (80), a ‘handsome and debonair’ man, was prescribed a bacteriostatic antibiotic fusidic acid in conjunction with statin medication, which proved fatal.

In December of last year Mr Beazley presented with a sore knee to his doctor of over 30 years, Dr Peter Morahan. After a consultation with orthopaedic surgeon Dr Richard Creedon, it was decided that Mr Beazley should take a fusidic acid antibiotic. He was admitted to hospital in January suffering from ‘decreasing mobility issues and muscle weakness’ and died a short time later from a cardiac arrest. Speaking at the inquest, Dr Morahan stated “he was not aware of any problems with prescribing fuisdic acid antibiotics to a patient on statins”. He said in his 35 years as a GP he had never heard of the potentially fatal interaction between the two drugs.

So who is to blame for Mr Beazley’s death? The fact is he died from the medical treatment he received – an iatrogenic death (Induced by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy). Medical misadventure was found to be the cause of death. Despite the doctor being unaware of interactions, the Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane stated that she had previously issued a warning about the usage of statin medication in combination with fusidic acid. In 2008, a 58 year old man, John Devereux, presented to his GP with an infected toe. He died the following month from a ‘horrific muscle-eating condition’ due to being prescribed the same medication combination as Mr Beazley. The jury at Mr Devereux’s inquest returned a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ and recommended that “the drug information about both Lipitor and Fusidic Acid be reviewed by the manufacturers involved” and further, that “doctors review the use of anti-cholesterol treatments with chronically ill patients who are taking other strong medications”. At that time the Irish Medicines Board (renamed HPRA) were reportedly ‘looking into’ Mr Devereux death and three other similar Irish cases. In 2013, Mr Deveraux’s wife Margaret took an action against the HSE for negligence and breach of their duty of care, for failure to recognise that the combination of Lipitor and fusidic acid could cause the onset of  a muscle break down condition (rhabdmoloysis). The action was settled by the HSE for a measly €45,000.

So why then can doctors be unaware of the terrible consequences of prescribing both, an issue that has seemingly been publicised for decades?

Can doctors really be unaware that the EMA (European Medicine’s Agency) issued a warning in 2011 against prescribing Statins with a Fusidic acid antibiotic? Can they be unaware that the UK’s HPRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) recommended when prescribing both, that “Patients should be closely monitored” and “temporary suspension of simvastatin treatment may be considered”?  What about the HPRA warning that treatment with statins and fusidic acid are contraindicated? It’s expressly stated on the SPC (Summary of Product Characteristics for doctors).

In 2010, Dublin’s Beaumont hospital found that following the deaths of 3 patients taking fusidic acid and statins –” fatal complications may be relatively high“. So why are doctor’s seemingly so uneducated on the adverse effects of prescribing certain medications, particularly as Ireland’s increasing polypharmacy is becoming more and more acceptable?

Following Mr Devereux’s death in 2008, his consultant nephrologist Dr Michael Clarkson said although he was unaware at that time that atorvastatin reacted with fucidic acid, following a consultation with colleagues he found there had been three other fatal cases in Ireland. They reported all four Irish cases to the Irish Medicines Board and said “it was no longer the practice at Cork (University Hospital) to co-prescribe fucidic acid and statins to patients”. 

There seems to be a lack of communication between the various regulators and the medical profession. Will the deceased patient be blamed once again for not reading the PIL (patient Information Leaflet), or will the doctor’s get a slap on the wrist from the Medical Council for not observing the following and consequently killing their patient? RIP to Mr Beazley, Mr Devereax and all victims of iatrogenesis.

Fudicin Warning

Fudicin Warning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEO Pharma PIL

EMA Warning

HPRA Warning

Beaumont Hospital Findings

Irish Times Article

RTE Article

Irish Independent

Fucidin SPC 

 ISMN 2012 Warning

An Irish Epidemic: Suicide and Homicide on Antidepressants

This article was initially written for RxISK (independent drug safety website) and published on 17/March/2015.

Medication Madness?

Medication Madness?

 An Irish Epidemic: Suicide and Homicide on Antidepressants

Leonie Fennell – March 2015

Ireland is currently in the midst of an unprecedented suicide/homicide epidemic. Parents are uncharacteristically killing their children; husbands are killing their wives; brothers are killing their brothers; mothers are killing themselves and their babies, all at an alarming rate.

Dr Michael Curtis, Deputy State Pathologist, recently said

“I’m sure it has happened sporadically before, but the frequency and regularity of what we’re seeing (familicides) seems to be a phenomenon of recent years. We’re seeing it on a regular basis…”

So what is being done to stop this terrible phenomenon? Grand psychiatric words such as familicide, infanticide, siblicide and Parricide attempt to bring some clarity to these tragic incidences but provide little explanation. The media frenzy which follow these deaths largely focuses on the ‘mental health’ of the perpetrator, with the financial position of the more mature perpetrator usually offered up as another causal factor. A useless exercise – following a long Irish recession, families without money worries are actually the exception rather than the Rule.

Every conceivable deed or departure from routine, points as proof that he/she was ‘losing the plot’ before the incident occurred. The ‘mental health’ aspect is then widely discussed, usually ending with recommendations that vulnerable people should seek help. But what if the ‘help’ that a vulnerable person received is actually causing these tragic incidents?

Last year Ireland saw a huge number of these family killings. In Sligo, Shane Skeffington (20) killed his little brother Brandon (9) and then himself. This article in the Evening Herald stated that Shane

“had been receiving psychiatric treatment in a mental hospital just days before the tragedy happened”.

Six weeks later, this time in Cork, Jonathan O’Driscoll, aged 21, killed his twin brothers Thomas and Paddy (again aged 9) and then himself. The Irish Independent described him here as a

‘troubled youth on medication for mental health’.

Last month Michael Greaney, aged 53, killed his wife and attempted to kill his daughter. He then killed himself. After a spell in psychiatric services he was deemed as posing ‘no risk’ to his family. A psychiatrist recommended that he be allowed to return home, no doubt with a prescription filled for some psychiatric drug or other. The Herald stated here that friends

“expressed fears that the glass of wine (he had earlier) may have reacted with his medication to drastically alter his mood”.

What seems shocking, to me at least, is that all of these cases involved knifes. Another common denominator in every one of these cases, is that the perpretrators were receiving recent ‘care’ from irish psychiatric services. By its very nature, particularly in Ireland, the ‘care’ provided involved psychiatric drugs. That these drugs double the risk of suicide and violence, can lead to mania, psychosis, worsening depression and akathisia, is almost always overlooked. Experts say that the most dangerous times are when starting, discontinuing or changing dose (up or down).

When Anna Byrne, a woman heavily pregnant with twins, jumped off Howth Head killing herself and her two unborn boys, the fact that her medication had been recently changed wasn’t seen as a mitigating factor. Despite this report in the Irish Independent that Anna was deemed to be “low risk given that she did not indicate that she was suicidal and had made future plans”, her psychiatrist doubled her dose of Sertraline (aka Zoloft and Lustral), a few days before she jumped to her death.

Much discussions followed about mental health in pregnancy, which only seemed to push vulnerable pregnant women towards the same ‘care’ which may effectively have killed Anna and her boys. The teratogenic effect of these drugs didn’t enter the equation and shockingly, Sertraline was described as “a commonly used antidepressant during pregnancy”.

As I write this, Jane Braidwood, a 65 year old mental health professional, was stabbed to death in Dunlaoghaire, Co. Dublin. Her 31 year old son, Fionn, has been arrested by Gardaí in connection with the killing. The Irish Mirror reported that he is understood to have suffered from serious mental health issues. I can only guess, considering Mrs Braidwood’s profession, that her son also had access to medication.

You may ask why I feel I’m such an expert – how can I make such blatant accusations, how can I can be so sure?

In 2009 my son Shane, aged 22, killed another young man and then himself. Despite the media looking for every possible mitigating factor, there weren’t any. He didn’t have any ‘mental illness’, didn’t drink alcohol, didn’t do drugs and was a model student. In fact he was known by his lecturers as ‘An Chroí mor’ (Irish for ‘the big heart’). Shane was sad; he had broken up with his girlfriend some months beforehand and was struggling to move on. I insisted that he should see a doctor and lo and behold, Shane was prescribed Citalopram (aka Celexa and Cipramil). 17 days later my lovely son killed his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend by stabbing him once; he then killed himself, also by stabbing (19 times). Two others were also injured that night.

We struggled to understand how sensible, kind Shane could harm anyone, never mind himself. We read many clearly made-up media articles all pointing the finger; Shane was guilty, guilty, guilty. Journalists mentioned cocaine, alcohol and even other unsolved deaths in relation to my son. One journalist said that Shane was from a working class background trying to ingratiate himself into the middle classes. Another quoted a Catholic priest as saying Shane’s action were ‘pure evil’. From very early on, Irish psychiatry (as a whole) bombarded the media with letters defending their medical model. Well-known psychiatrist Patricia Casey even posthumously diagnosed Shane on national TV, stating she didn’t think it was the Citalopram that caused Shane’s actions, rather she thought it was the ‘mental illness he was suffering from’.

Strange then that a jury of normal people rejected a suicide verdict – a fact which upset Irish psychiatry enormously. They continued to vehemently defend the drugs, even going as far as contradicting the Coroner, questioning his ability to do his job.

Cohesive opinion within Ireland’s psychiatric services on these family killings, seem patchy and fragmented. In 2009 Professor Denis Gill stated that

“Interpretation and speculation would suggest that post-natal depression, reactive depression, mental illness … were factors in some of these incidents”.

Paul Gilligan, chief executive of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services in Dublin, has an opposing view. He recently stated that these murder-suicides are

“not typically associated with mental health difficulties”  & these incidents “require a great deal more premeditation and planning” than suicide alone.

Mr Gilligan overlooked one very important factor. If these men did not suffer from any mental health issues, then any drugs prescribed to them were wrongly prescribed. Therefore, it is surely conceivably that any psychiatric drugs prescribed in error, could have actually caused more harm than good?

I believe with all my heart that the mental health ‘care’ these people received is to blame for these deaths. I am not alone; Jake McGill Lynch was 14 when he was prescribed Prozac to ‘help with his exams’. The following month he took a rifle that he used recreationally (being a member of a nearby gun-club) and shot himself through the head. His parents were never told that Prozac could cause suicidality in young people or that this drug had a black box warning in the United States. Following Jake’s death, his parents Stephanie and John have been campaigning to increase the warnings here, so that no other young boy or girl is driven to their deaths by these drugs. On the issue of informed consent (or lack of), his mother said

“who in their right mind would give this drug to their child knowing that it could cause suicide?”

I believe that these deaths were preventable. I believe that further deaths are also absolutely preventable. I believe it’s not rocket science. But does the Government care enough?  Does the Church care enough? Has Ireland lost its soul?