Recent Schizophrenia Diagnosis, Antidepressant Use, Linked to Suicide

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Research in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry finds, in a study of 18,154 subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia, that “The highest suicide-related mortality was seen among subjects recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. Among all potential baseline risk factors for completed suicide examined, the variables most associated with completed suicide were history of suicide attempts and usage of antidepressant medication.”

Fleischhacker, W., Kane, J., Geier, J., Karayal, O., et al.; Completed and attempted suicides among 18,154 subjects with schizophrenia included in a large simple trial. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. March, 2014 Mar; 75(3):e184-90. doi: 10.4088/JCP.13m08563.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

14 COMMENTS

    • Add to that what usually happens to people in the process of being “diagnosed”. You admit hearing voices or someone from your family does this for you and you end up as a “criminally insane”. If you’re timid enough to endure everything that is being done to you (including in some places stripping you naked during the admission procedure for half of the staff, regardless of their/your gender, to see) it’s bad enough. Try resisting.
      I wonder why people kill themselves, can’t quite tell.

  1. I endorse everything you say, B. Just recently I was asked to help a young woman who was being bullied into ECT. She was drugged up, an involuntary patient, told loudly she was `useless in her condition, and publicly humiliated, like the strip. She was petrified over what was happening to her and this doc called it schizophrenia, with `catatonic features’. I pointed out that no one I knew had ever seen catatonia, that her slow movement was drug induced. He yelled and bullied but was moved on. It was OK, no ECT, and allowed out. Disgraceful.
    As a psych nurse from 1969 – 1975 in the most `modern’ of the old mental hospitals here in Melbourne Australia, I was told that the hundreds of `old lags’, `warehoused’ men and women in the back wards were nearly all `burnt out’ schizophrenics who would never leave because chronic schizophrenia caused a dementia. If you look at the history of psychiatry you will see that it was that people with schizophrenia were the most brutalised, terrorised, mutilated, lobotomy among other procedures, see any history of psychiatry), poisoned; long before the anti-psychotics/depressants, there were dreadful `medicines’ including Chloral Hydrate, (universal as a sleep med), the earlier barbiturates like `Thiopental’ given in massive doses for years, the often deadly Metrazol and many others, as behaviour control. Heavily sedated people didn’t make a fuss but they did often lose control over bodily functions and were punished appropriately for making a `mess’. Verbally and physically abused and treated like animals. The attendants would go home and treat their dogs better than their patients. I knew of two attendants who were sacked for brutality. They got caught, drunk in charge. Then there was Insulin Coma `Therapy’, described by many as producing a terrifying sense of absolute doom. The death rate was rather high, too, and the patients knew that. There was a claim that people DID get better from Insulin Coma. This was later put down to the extra attention the patients received on treatment days. Could it be that extra attention is the way to go? The Quakers did it quite well in 1816, but you don’t get $15,000 or more a week for giving extra attention to your patients. Then there were those who said they were well and fled the system. And ECT, quite apart from the intellectual and emotional crippling effects, these `burnt out’ schizophrenic `lags’, lived lives of chronic pain from the fractures caused by ECT. Spinal processes (the little wings at the sides of the vertebrae) were particularly vulnerable, but even long bones fractured sometimes, a femur, a radius (arm) and ligament damage was also a major issue. These guys didn’t get physio and too many complaints were likely to get them back in the ECT room anyway. I saw all this. I saw the row of beds in the ECT `veranda’, no dividing curtains, not even a lowering of the staff voices as the doctor said, `I’m going to wind this (the ECT machine), right up, he’ll be sorry he was even born, by the time I’m finished. He won’t be causing any more trouble.’ And he laughed. I looked at the other men in the room. They were rigid with fear. BURNT OUT? NO. They were savaged by psychopaths. Brutal bullies whose only chance of power was over the most vulnerable, fragile people in our society, and we let them do it. Then and now. That doctor did ECT on me. I too, tried to get away, but I was dragged from my bed, through the ECT room door, shoved onto the table, pleading and crying on many occasions. Once I put my hands over my head and begged them not to do it. The nurses, clearly used to it, pulled my arms down until I was injected. How can subjecting an elderly (aged 58-59, 66 treatments for 20 months), woman be called `therapy’? I tried to kill myself 4 times over that time. That was in a private hospital. Someone said `but you signed’. A large male nurse, another nurse with a pen, a threat of being sent to the public ward where it was `much worse’. Yes, I signed, and I still beat myself up over that. You do that with sexual rape, too. `If I hadn’t been there’, I must have done something’. Yeah, I know about rape.
    The fact that so many of those men and women did NOT commit suicide is a testament to their will to survive, even if it was at a far lesser level than they should. THEY WERE NOT BURNT OUT! THEY WERE BRUTALISED! SCHIZOPHRENIA IS NOT A LIFE SENTENCE – THE TREATMENT WAS! AND IS!
    Psychiatrists still maintain that it is a life sentence. Their patients can read the history, see the `zombies’ on Closapine, SSRIs, Quetiapine, Zyprexa, the apathy, and vacant compliance, the near paralysis from drugs. I can show you an over-drugged person from 100 metres away. I saw their forbears, too, NOTHING has changed in that look. `See how `catatonic’ he/she is,’ they say, `he/she needs more meds for that, he she needs ECT for that,’ they say!
    I once worked with a bunch of kids, all `schizophrenic’, aged 16-24 as we designed and performed a `concert/pantomime/theatrical’ event which we toured around the state for six months. Nobody had any symptoms of schizophrenia at all during that period. Nobody missed a rehearsal, a performance, though I think a few managed to miss a med or two. People chatted together, sang together, laughed together. After the last performance everyone went quiet as we returned to the hospital. There would be no more relief from the dismal, predictable future. I was a student nurse with a background in professional theatre, but I was moved on. It was over. Within 3 months the two most talented kids, aged 19 & 22 killed themselves. My lovely law graduate girl whom I respected as much as anyone I’ve ever known, was abandoned to the system. But one 24 year old man overcame his `schizophrenia’ and became a high ranked advocate for his fellow diagnoses for the next 30 years, as far as I know.
    Deee
    PS: We are going to have to stop them, somehow.
    .

    • Deee, I’m happy you managed to get through your horrific experiences and found strength to fight for others. It’s good to be reminded that psychiatry is not new to absolutely disgusting practices. I believe that lobotomy was even awarded a Nobel prize which is chilling to even think about. So far each and every one of their “treatments” was proven to be bullshit and it’s not going to be much different with current psych drugs. In fact I was shocked to find out that ECT is still being practiced – I thought it belonged to the dark past together with lobotomies, but hey, it’s alive an well. It’s disgusting.

    • You made it, Dee. It’s good to see you!

      The book, “Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness,” by Gail A. Hornstein has a great story exploring the history of a patient permanently housed in an asylum. The search started with a well preserved jacket the woman made around 1895. She had stitched writing all over and it was a masterpiece. Ms. Hornstein found out as much as she could about the woman to tell her story. The book also includes the stories of many people labeled with schizophrenia and their stories, which they often had to find alternative ways to tell because of the pressures put on them to shut up by the institution of psychiatry and people who enforce the belief that the “mentally ill” are just crazy and nothing they say for themselves can be taken seriously.

      The book includes a story about a mental asylum in Israel that was medieval in its wretchedness. An employee had written an editorial letter stating that the asylum needed money and should be receiving money from restitution from Holocaust crimes because most of the residents were survivors of the Holocaust. The hospital itself was built to be a —-

      wait for it—

      a prison for prisoners of war. The editorial caught worldwide attention, then psychiatrists in Israel were embarrassed into asking themselves if the patients who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and were Holocaust survivors might actually be suffering from extreme PTSD and trauma from one of the most extremely dehumanizing constructs known to modern humanity. Most of them were labeled and warehoused shortly after they arrived in Israel, which was shortly after the Holocaust. After this became public knowledge; it took a few years for psychiatrists to get around to doing a formal study, and I don’t know what the results were, but I trust that the same thing would have happened here and that most psychiatrists would conclude that these patients were predisposed to mental illness for genetic reasons and/or lacked “resilience”. The lack of humility in the practice of psychiatry is pathological.

      The sickly funny thing about genetics and schizophrenia is that not long after Hitler and his minions murdered most of the population of people identified as schizophrenic and their families in Germany, the rate of schizophrenia in the German population was pretty much the same. You’d think it would be easy to kill something that’s been disproved so many times, but NO.

      Oy.

  2. Speaking for myself, I’ve attempted suicide twice on Depot injection medication. I’d probably do the same again, if I was on this medication again.
    I don’t believe in ‘Schizophrenia’ (most of the time), I think everything is psychological or human based (or spiritual) and this is where the answers are.
    A lot of medication suicides are misrepresented or covered up, and it takes collusion and collective effort to do this.

    • I’m happy you did not succeed and are still with us.
      “A lot of medication suicides are misrepresented or covered up, and it takes collusion and collective effort to do this.”
      Easy to explain: on one side a bunch of crazy (dangerous) people who don’t like their drugs on the other side well-trained professionals in white coats. Whom would you believe? It does not matter where the evidence is or if the claims made have any substance to them – it’s all about authority. The only way to win is to educate people and get out of the closet just like the gays did.

      • And it is important to remember that in the clinical trials that found antidepressants to increase suicidal feelings and impulses, they systematically screen out anyone who is overtly suicidal before the study starts. So the actual suicidality figures in the studies should be expected to be LOWER than the general population of people diagnosed with “Major Depressive Disorder.” We certainly can’t “blame the disease” or say they were already suicidal but the drugs “gave them the energy to act on it,” because those who acknowledged they were already suicidal were not a part of the study.

        — Steve