“More Child Suicides Are Linked to A.D.D. Than Depression, Study Suggests”

The New York Times reports on a new study finding that ‘ADHD’ is the most common diagnosis for children under 12 who die by suicide.

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“Is This Leading Suicide Prevention Organization a Front for Big Pharma?”

"According to its website, AFSP is the ‘leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide.’ Yet due to its Pharma relationships and continued Pharma funding, it could be argued that it is dedicated to profiting from suicide,” Martha Rosenberg writes for the influence.

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“FDA Panel Votes to Remove Serious Warning from Pfizer’s Smoking Cessation Pill”

This week an FDA advisory panel decided to remove warnings of serious psychiatric side effects from the Chantix product label. “In making its recommendation, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel reviewed the results of a study that was released earlier this year and found that Chantix does not appear to increase the risk of suicidal behavior,” Ed Silverman reports for STAT. “An FDA medical review team had cast doubt on the study due to problems with collecting and analyzing side effect data as well as ties some investigators had to Pfizer.”

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“FDA questions Pfizer Study of Chantix Psychiatric Effects”

Pfizer is petitioning the FDA to remove the black box warning for Chantix which focuses on neuropsychiatric side-effects like suicidality and depression. The regulators have pushed back, however, arguing that Pfizer’s studies are potentially biased and did not adequately capture adverse events.

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A Veteran’s Letter to Congress

I am a former Lieutenant in the US Navy, and on August 30, I sent a letter to the US Senate and House Committees on Armed Services, and their respective committees on Veterans’ Affairs. I titled the letter “Concerning Mental Health Treatment and Suicide in the United States Armed Forces and the Veteran Community.” Here is what I wrote:
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Doctors Can Be Liable if Patients Commit Suicide, Court Rules

Politico reports on a decision from the Florida Supreme Court last Thursday that may influence how physicians treat depression and how they are held responsible for that treatment. In the case in question, the husband of Jacqueline Granicz, who committed suicide in 2008, sued a physician for prescribing the antidepressant Lexapro without requesting a meeting or an evaluation.

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Lancet Study Questions Safety of Locked Psychiatric Wards

A new study published in Lancet Psychiatry challenges the common practice of locking psychiatric wards to prevent patients from attempting suicide or leaving against the advice of their physicians.  The study finds that locked doors do not stop these behaviors, and the researchers speculate that locked wards may even be worse for patient safety.

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“Driven to Suicide by an ‘Inhuman and Unnatural’ Pressure to Sell”

Today’s New York Times features a story of a drug salesman, Ashish Awasthi, who committed suicide when he felt he couldn’t keep up with his company’s goals. The company is accused of breaking ethical guidelines and even laws in the pursuit of new customers. Others have attempted to speak out against some of these practices, including mass screening camps run by sales personnel designed to pressure doctors into writing prescriptions.

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NPR: “Gun Violence And Mental Health Laws”

On NPR’s Morning Edition, Lauren Silverman debunks the assumption that mass shooters are usually ‘mentally ill,’ and that mental health policy can substitute for gun control legislation. "We need more funding for treatment of people with ‘mental illness’ in this country," Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist and director of the division of law, ethics, and psychiatry at Columbia University, says. "But to argue for that funding on false grounds — namely to try and persuade the public that it will protect them [to] have more mental health clinics — in the long run can only backfire."

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Researchers Investigate Antidepressant-Induced Suicidal Ideation

An increase in suicidal thoughts is a known and serious side-effect for various types of antidepressants. Recent studies suggest that there may be some genetic factors that increase the risk for this reaction. A new study, in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, identifies two specific genetic variants that are associated with worsening suicidal ideation in patients taking antidepressants.

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“Why are Doctors Plagued by Depression and Suicide?”

For STAT news, Judith Graham reports on the escalating crisis of depression, burnout, and suicide among physicians. “Male doctors are 1.4 times more likely to kill themselves than men in the general population; female physicians, 2.3 times more likely.”

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How Does the News Cover Mental Health Issues?

The news media frequently write stories that connect mental health issues with violence, according to a new study published this month in Health Affairs. After analyzing a sample of 400 news stories about ‘mental illness’ written between 1995 and 2014, researchers found that the increasing emphasis on violence and mass shootings were “highly disproportionate to actual rates of violence” among those with mental health issues. This gap between what gets represented in the news and what occurs, in reality, may fuel stigma and decrease support for recovery-oriented mental health treatments and policies.

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Rising Rates of Suicide: Are Pills the Problem?

If you’ve read recent reports that state “US suicide rates surge to a 30 year high,” you might first justify the reality with the fact that things feel very wrong in our world today. On a personal, national, and planetary level, people are suffering to survive and the distress is coming from all sides – medical to economic to existential. But you probably also wonder why more people are choosing this permanent and self-destructive path, and feel compelled to submit to seemingly logical appeals to provide these individuals more help and greater access to treatment. Surprise: that may be the last thing our population of hopeless and helpless needs. Life’s inevitable challenges are not the problem. It’s the drugs we use that are fueling suicide.
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“A Community Faces the Mental Health Impact of Climate Change”

“In Nunatsiavut, climate change is already a terrible reality, and it’s taking a heavy toll on mental health,” Ellie Robins reports for the influence. “In Nunatsiavut, land is once again being taken from communities that have lived on it for thousands of years. This time, it’s not being snatched by colonialists. Instead, it’s changing, disappearing, possibly becoming uninhabitable as a result of the behaviors of other, richer people, elsewhere.”

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“The Hefty Price of ‘Study Drugs’ Misuse on College Campuses”

For the Conversation, Binghamton University researcher Lina Begdache tackles the issue of the growing use of 'Study Drugs' in the student population. “Animal studies show that the changes that lead to rewiring of the brain are due to an alteration in gene function,” she writes. “Some of these changes become permanent and heritable, especially with prolonged abuse, meaning that the altered (newly programmed) genes are passed down to offspring.”

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“Psych Drug Link to Violent Episodes Analysed”

The Irish Examiner reports on research by Yolande Lucire connecting antidepressant-induced akathisia to violent episodes. The research concludes that the “medicalisation of common human distress” has resulted in a very large number of people getting medication that may do more harm than good by causing “suicides and homicides and the mental states that lead up to them”.

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Antidepressants Do Not Prevent Suicides, May Increase Risk

When the CDC released data revealing an increasing suicide rate in the US, some experts, speaking to major media outlets, speculated that the increase could be tied to the FDA’s Black Box warning for teen suicides on antidepressants. It was suggested that the warnings may discourage some from taking antidepressants and that these drugs may prevent suicides. The research, however, does not appear to support these claims. A new review of studies on the role of antidepressants in suicide, published this month in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, concludes that there is no evidence that antidepressants prevent suicide and that the research may even suggest that the drugs  increase the risk.

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The FDA Is Hiding Reports Linking Psych Drugs to Homicides

In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined being drawn into a story of intrigue involving my own government’s efforts to hide, from the public, reports of psychiatric drugs associated with cases of murder, including homicides committed by youth on the drugs. But that is precisely the intrigue I now find myself enmeshed in.
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“World Benzo Awareness Day, First Step To End Global Dependency Woes”

“In a bid to raise awareness towards the global epidemic of abuse on Benzodiazepine or ‘benzos’ abuse, a global campaign dubbed as World Benzo Awareness Day (WBAD) has been gaining ground,” Morning News USA reports. “I have seen so many people suffering, committing suicide because they cannot tolerate the prolonged withdrawal reactions and the damage done to them any longer, and there is very little, if any, help available to them.”

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“The Torturing of Mentally Ill Prisoners”

This week’s issue of the New Yorker examines the treatment of people diagnosed with mental health issues in Florida’s prisons. The horrifying stories of prisoners tortured, killed by guards, and driven to suicide while staff looked away reached the public only through the work of investigators and whistleblowers.

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A “Hot-Potato” Topic and a “Rational” Book

Rational Suicide, Irrational Laws is an excellent book that explores the criminalization and decriminalization of suicide. It analyzes laws by which “mental health” professionals and organizations are held accountable or “liable.” It exposes horrific contradictions in how laws are applied, particularly problematizing the assumption that people who kill themselves are suffering from a “mental illness.” There is much in this book that makes me want to stand up and cheer.
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Suicide Rates Rise While Antidepressant Use Climbs

Multiple media sources are reporting on new data from the CDC revealing a substantial increase in the suicide rate in the United States between 1999 and 2014, with a steep increase in rates among girls and women. Few report, however, that the percentage of Americans on antidepressants has nearly doubled over this period.

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My Response to the FDA’s ECT Rule Change

I lived through forced ECT from 2005-2006 at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. My experience with ECT was the impetus for me to become involved in the antipsychiatry and Mad Pride movements, although I am not entirely opposed to voluntary mental health treatment. The following is the comment I submitted to the FDA on its proposal to down-classify the ECT shock device.
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Victim Blaming: Childhood Trauma, Mental Illness & Diagnostic Distractions?

Why, despite the fact that the vast majority of people diagnosed with a mental illness have suffered from some form of childhood trauma, is it still so difficult to talk about? Why, despite the enormous amount of research about the impact of trauma on the brain and subsequent effect on behaviour, does there seem to be such an extraordinary refusal for the implication of this research to change attitudes towards those who are mentally ill? Why, when our program and others like it have shown people can heal from the effects of trauma, are so many people left with the self-blame and the feeling they will never get better that my colleague writes about below?
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Our Day in Mental Health Court

For weeks I had been trying to get released from the psychiatric ward of a private hospital in NYC, and none of my arguments, compliance, or attempted air of normality had made an impression on the barely-visible ward psychiatrist who had 2pc’d me. I had, I was told, made a very serious suicide attempt and this was a predictor of future attempts. They would let me know when they thought I was sufficiently remorseful and stabilized to be released.
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