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.

While in college at MIT, I studied neuroscience, and I worked an overnight volunteer suicide hotline. Suicide and untimely deaths from substance abuse abound at MIT. I went to medical school at Cornell, and completed my residency and fellowship at Bellevue/NYU because I believed that psychiatrists had cracked the code of human suffering, and I wanted to do my part to alleviate pain.

I believed that people who were struggling had a chemical imbalance and that we needed to do our best to help them access the pharmaceutical support they would need, for the rest of their lives.

Over the past decade, through my research into the literature I’ve learned that the data tells a very different story about the safety and efficacy of psychiatric medications. In general, there are two characteristically distinct groups of individuals who commit suicide – those who have never been in psychiatric treatment, and those who have.

Contrary to what you might think, compelling evidence[1] shows that those who have committed suicide outside of contact with psychiatric treatment, were not mentally ill and struggling in silence. In fact, they were likely influenced by significant social, cultural, and economic factors, that, compounded by a deep sense of disconnection from others and community, left self-harm as the only seemingly viable option.

With the ever-expanding diagnostic criteria that can be used to pathologize those wrestling with psychosocial stressors, many of these suicide victims are diagnosed as mentally ill by “psychological autopsy.” What if, as the literature[2] demonstrates, improvements in income could have alleviated their “illness” as effectively as a clinical intervention? Does that mean that they were never really mentally ill or clinically depressed, but just grappling with life circumstances? Should citizens in legitimate distress be treated with medication as if they had a brain chemical disorder?

According to available data – 3 large meta-analyses – more psychiatry means more suicide.[3] [4] [5] In multi-country, large-scale longitudinal studies, suicide rates have increased while at the same time we’ve increased psychiatric funding, treatment, and access. How could this be? As many prominent voices including Robert Whitaker, Dr. David Healy, Dr. Peter Gotzsche, Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Irving Kirsch, and Dr. Joanna Moncrieff have researched, the untold story of psychiatric medications includes their propensity to induce violence, in otherwise non-violent individuals, against self and others.

This is a shocking assertion: the medications we are offering to help those in distress may be leading patients to the very outcomes we are most hoping to avoid. In this way, prescribing an antidepressant to someone who is suffering may be like holding out a knife to someone who is falling off a cliff.

In fact, based on his research, Dr. Peter Gotzsche, founder of the Nordic Cochrane Collaboration, claims, “Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market, as doctors are unable to handle them. It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good.”

What is he basing that statement on?

One of the concerns relates to the propensity for psychotropic drugs to have unpredictable and poorly studied effects on behavior. In fact, evidence for increased violence and impulsivity on these drugs dates back to the 1950s. The driving force appears to be an experience of akathesia, or a combination of increased energy, restlessness, and discomfort in one’s own skin.

In 2010, Thomas Moore of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and his colleagues[6] identified 1527 cases of violence, including homicides, disproportionally reported to the FDA for 31 drugs, including varenicline, eleven antidepressants, six sedative/hypnotics and three drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

These medications are often prescribed for daily experiences of distress ranging from the loss of a pet to marital discord—not for clinical syndromes of what we are calling mental illness. Lucire and Crotty[7] reported in 10 cases of impulsive violence and homicide in patients who were prescribed outside of a formal psychiatric diagnosis, and who went on to commit these crimes in a state of medication-induced intoxication. Dr. David Healy has corroborated this risk through a publication on the treatment of 20 healthy volunteers with sertraline (Zoloft), finding that two of them became acutely suicidal – a veritable smoking gun.[8] As Healy testified in a 2001 civil trial, even several doses of Paxil can lead an otherwise stable individual to murder his wife, daughter, granddaughter, and then kill himself. In a case series, patients with no history of suicidality went on to develop intense, violent suicidal preoccupation within 2-7 weeks of treatment with Prozac.[9]

These cases appear to occur predominantly in people who have genetic variants that reduces their liver’s ability to metabolize drugs, compounded by the use of multiple medications. The most recent analysis published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine analyzed three cases of homicide and attempted suicide and determined that “[a]ll three cases exhibit genotype-based diminished metabolic capability that, in combination with their enzyme inhibiting/competing medications, decreased metabolism further and are the likely cause of these catastrophic events.” But with most doctors unaware of this phenomenon and no screening measures in place to identify these high-risk individuals, psychotropic prescriptions are a Russian Roulette.

The FDA has been dancing around the evidence since 1990 when the risk of antidepressants to cause suicide was explored in a hearing but deemed too preliminary. Subsequently, in 2004, the FDA issued a black-box warning about the risk of suicide in children and adolescents prescribed antidepressants, expanded to adults in 2005, and to all antidepressants in 2010. A reanalysis of study 329[10] which initially served as a landmark study[11] in 2001 supporting the prescription of antidepressants to children, has now demonstrated that these medications are ineffective in this population and cause suicide. Concealing and manipulating data that shows this signal of harm, including a doubling of risk of suicide with antidepressant treatment,[12] [13] <sup”>[14] has been an ongoing challenge to true informed consent. In fact, a reanalysis[15] of an influential US National Institute of Mental Health 2007 study, revealed a four-fold increase in suicide despite the fact that the initial publication[16] claimed no increased risk relative to placebo. As data is reanalyzed, a clearer picture of the adverse event profiles of antidepressants emerges.

From 1999-2013, psychiatric medication prescriptions have increased by a whopping 117% concurrent with a 240% increase in death rates from these medications.[17] No wonder Dr. Gotzsche counts psychiatric medications as the third leading cause of death, worldwide<sup”>[18].

With deteriorating outcomes in mental illness, increasing suicides, and violence, perhaps it is time to explore alternative perspectives on how to ease suffering with a focus on root cause resolution.

My patient, Lisa, reminds me of the importance of this. She attempted suicide after struggling with flat mood, fogginess, irritability, and insomnia postpartum, and being treated with Paxil. Within two weeks, she had written a suicide note and was planning to jump off of the top of her 16-story New York apartment building. She told me, it just made perfect sense.  Since the discovery of her note, a hospitalization, and a switch to sertraline, she has come into my care, and we have weaned her off medication and diagnosed her with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – an autoimmune condition that is common in the postpartum period. It often entails notable mood and cognitive symptoms that can be put into remission through lifestyle and dietary change. Antidepressants were never the appropriate treatment for her and could have cost her her life.

It is time for a new approach to the complexity of mental illness and its many reversible root causes from physiologic to psychosocial. Unfortunately, the available pharmaceutical treatment options, as a one-size-fits-all, may be responsible for driving the very problem they claim to treat and prevent.

* * * * *


  1. Introduction of a National Minimum Wage Reduced Depressive Symptoms in Low-Wage Workers: A Quasi-Natural Experiment in the UK 
  2. Do nations’ mental health policies, programs and legislation influence their suicide rates? An ecological study of 100 countries.

  3. The Relationship Between General Population Suicide Rates and Mental Health Funding, Service Provision and National Policy: a Cross-National Study

  4. National suicide rates and mental health system indicators: An ecological study of 191 countries

  5. Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others

  6. Antidepressant-induced akathisia-related homicides associated with diminishing mutations in metabolizing genes of the CYP450 family

  7. Antidepressant-induced akathisia-related homicides associated with diminishing mutations in metabolizing genes of the CYP450 family


  8. Emergence of intense suicidal preoccupation during fluoxetine treatment.

  9. Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence


  10. Efficacy of paroxetine in the treatment of adolescent major depression: a randomized, controlled trial.

  11. Association between suicide attempts and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: systematic review of randomised controlled trials

  12. Suicidality and aggression during antidepressant treatment: systematic review and meta-analyses based on clinical study reports


  13. Lines of evidence on the risks of suicide with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

  14. Suicidal risk from TADS study was higher than it first appeared

  15. The Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study (TADS): Long-term Effectiveness and Safety Outcomes

  16. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 
  17. Our prescription drugs kill us in large numbers.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. While I appreciate your good intentions and your understanding of the harm caused by long-term psychotropic drug therapy, I believe that your understanding of “mental illness” is a bigger problem. “Mental illness” is a myth that denies the humanity of painful emotional suffering from distressful experiences. Long-term psychotropic therapy causes additional distress for emotional sufferers from side-effects, fatigue and reduced mental acuity. Long-term psychotropic therapy is also additionally distressful for anyone expecting it to reduce hopelessness or provide some element of emotional well-being .

    Best wishes, Steve

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      • I understand fully the connection between physical health and mental distress and referenced this connection with my comment about the side-effects of neuroleptic drugs. My response was a criticism of an acceptance of the myth of diseases of the “mind.” The myth of “mental illness” fuels the entire concept that neuroleptic drugs are capable of assisting mental distress beyond temporarily relieving symptoms.

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  2. Nice article Kelly, although I agree with Steve that the use of the word mental illness within is problematic.

    Regarding this, “Does that mean that they were never really mentally ill or clinically depressed, but just grappling with life circumstances? Should citizens in legitimate distress be treated with medication as if they had a brain chemical disorder?”

    The answer to the questions above are respectively “of course”, and “of course not”. Sad that we even have to ask these questions.

    There is no clear division between mentally ill and not mentally ill; there are no discrete mental illnesses.

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      • I worked in a medical hospital as a chaplain. One day I was called to one of my units where a woman patient was creating absolute havoc, from igniting trash in the trash cans and trying to set bedding on fire (I always wondered where she got the lighter from to do all this with but no one ever answered that question for me), to cursing out her husband of 35 years while screaming he was a horrible person and she’d never met him in her entire life! The staff on that unit immediately stated that she needed a psych consult and should be moved to the psych unit since she was obviously psychotic. Her attending physician showed up and told one of the nurses to get him a large vial of glucose. She gave him a look as if he had a horn growing out of his forehead. He stated that the woman was not psychotic and that her behavior was the result of an imbalance of sugar. Everyone looked at him as if he needed to be taken to the psych unit. Well, they brought the glucose, he gave her a great big whopping shot of it, and five minutes later she turned into a most wonderful and loving person and asked her husband where he’d been all day! Enough said. The doctor just smiled at all the staff who had doubted his judgment.

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    • “Does that mean that they were never really mentally ill or clinically depressed, but just grappling with life circumstances?”

      Yes, in some cases, maybe even in the majority of cases, but clearly not in all cases. Life’s adversity takes it toll and the worst thing that could happen to a vulnerable person is to inflict pharmacology on him/her. But to try to extrapolate from this that there is no such thing as mental illness, only life difficulties mistakes the part for the whole. People have suffered serious depression or broken down without anything being wrong in their life. Ellyn Saks does suffer from life circumstances; she has a supportive family, loving marriage, lots of friends, professional success. Her life adversity is having a difficult disabling illness.

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  3. The people who have to apply to social security disability for help with income have to be subjected to a medical diagnosis by a psychiatrist, and compelled to take medication for life to prove they are severely disabled and in need of help and can’t work.

    They cannot say they are too sad to work either due to poor opportunity for employment, under employment, job loss, a bad economy, and social injustice that usually accompanies poverty.

    These people are controlled with medications, who would naturally be political dissidents and voice their concerns respectfully and assertively in a civilized way. The medications are indeed dangerous because they repress anger, rather than allow it be expressed freely and openly in a safe way to the rich and those in power, who have a good excuse not to hear criticism otherwise.

    It has to be a chemical imbalance not a natural reaction to government policies that send jobs to other countries, steals the wealth of the middle class, or a society that humiliates you for not taking personal responsibility like others who don’t share similar problems.

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  4. Thank you, Dr. Brogan, for your article and thoughts about suicide, antidepressants and your honesty about the psychiatric profession and commentary about society. I think all of us who go into the mental health field as a profession wanted to alleviate suffering and certainly felt that psychiatric medications were going to help in this effort. The reality is that life can be very painful at times. There is sickness, death and unfortunate violence, poverty, injustice and inequality all around us. Suicide is certainly a way out but a certainly permanent solution to life’s problems that are usually temporary and transient. Medications have proven to be more of a curse than a blessing as they have been used far too often, a panacea to life’s problems.

    I currently work in a medical pediatric unit and I see children and adolescents with cancer and genetic disorders that have no cures. I see the limits to medicine even though I work with experienced, talented doctors and nurses with the latest technology and medical care available. I am in awe of the courage though I see often of those who face life on life’s terms. Courage to live a meaningful life that faces challenges, promotes healthy, peaceful and loving relationships and to create a society that promotes the health and well-being of all its people has been the struggle of all civilizations. “Mental illness” is a societal disease caused by many factors. Cure to me lies in the way we treat one another individually and as a bigger society through policies that promote self-responsibility, accountability, economic and social equality and justice.

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    • Knowledgeispower

      Good comment. But shouldn’t we stop calling psych drugs “medications” as if they are treating a specific disease or medical disorder!? To call them “medications” is to accept part of Biological Psychiatry’s bogus science that advocates for their prolific use in our society. These are mind altering drugs – nothing more and nothing less. And more and more often they are very dangerous mind altering drugs.

      As we speak I have a friend who is on life support for a possible suicide attempt. Nothing I’m aware of in this person’s life would remotely explain any suicidal behavior other than being on the SSRI, Zoloft, for the past few years.

      I am sickened and angry beyond words. The very things in today’s “mental health” system that I have been writing about and passionately fighting against for the past 20 years are increasingly hitting closer to home with both friends and family members. I know I am not alone.

      Thank you Kelly for standing up and speaking out against this drug holocaust. We all must find the ways to increase our exposure and activism against the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex.


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      • I am sorry for the tragedy surrounding your friend’s suicide but I do not believe that you can rightfully say that you know that Zoloft was her only problem in life. Being positive in social situations does not mean that people cannot be struggling internally especially while voluntarily taking neuroleptic drugs.

        Best wishes, Steve

        PS- I also appreciate Kelly speaking out against the harm of pushing drugs to cure social welfare problems but describing it as a “drug holocaust” is insensitive to the victims of genocide.

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        • Steve

          No I can’t say for SURE that Zoloft, or any other drug I am not aware of that she was taking, is THE causative agent in this tragedy. But the increasing CORRELATION type evidence (worldwide) is compounding by the day.

          Unfortunately, confidentiality laws and the lack of drug knowledge and the overwhelming desire of family members to want to move on with their lives, will lead to the issue of psych drug involvement ending up being hidden from public view and NEVER investigated.

          Back in 1991, after reading Dr. Peter Breggin and a few other sources, I wrote my Masters thesis on the growing dangers of psychiatric drugs. In that thesis I compared the expanding psych drug crisis to the AIDS crisis. For several years after I thought I might have gone “over the top” with my analogy.

          Today I believe the AIDS analogy, as well as the use of the term, “holocaust,” is quite accurate and applicable to the pervasive damage done by psychiatric drugs on a world scale. We cannot afford to minimize the nature of this medical and societal crisis. I think you should reconsider your opposition to the use of this term.


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          • Steve

            As an added point to my above argument about the rightful use of the “holocaust” analogy, did you miss the following quote in Dr. Brogan’s blog?:

            “From 1999-2013, psychiatric medication prescriptions have increased by a whopping 117% concurrent with a 240% increase in death rates from these medications.[17] No wonder Dr. Gotzsche counts psychiatric medications as the third leading cause of death, worldwide[18].”


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          • Intent matters; the intent to murder a population should not be confused with the intent to help a population while causing far more harm and death. However, I do not know a term with enough impact to describe the harm caused by treating a social welfare problem as a medical problem.

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          • Steve

            Keep in mind that Dr. Gotzshe, who was quoted above, also calls the collusion between Big Pharma and Psychiatry a form of “organized crime.”

            You don’t believe that enough documented evidence has accumulated over the last few decades for those criminal elements in the leadership of the APA and the pharmaceutical industry to NOW know that there is great harm being caused by SSRI’s, benzos, and neuroleptic drugs etc.?

            With all their profits and its related power, do you believe these institutional leaders will somehow now admit that serious mistakes were made and start educating the public that the “chemical imbalance” theory is a myth and urge doctors and patients to turn away from all these drugs?

            Hell will freeze over before this happens.

            Suppose those white people in the WEST who gifted Native Americans new blankets infected with small pox did NOT know (at first) they were infected in this way. But then LATER ON found out this was the case but still kept giving them the infected blankets. Are they still guilty of genocide???


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          • Richard,

            There are Psychiatrists out there that are well aware of the dangers of these drugs and continue to recommend them. And there are groups of doctors that will cover for each other when tragedies occur. It could be power, or psychopathology or just part of the job – I don’t know. But I have first hand experience of it.

            When I reported my (historical) psychiatrist to the Irish Medical Council they covered for him (he was on one of their committees). It was as if they thought they were doing something funny.

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          • Richard,

            It’s even amazing we’re having this discussion – ‘medicine’ killing people is near enough part of culture by now, we’re enured to it.

            If this was 70 years ago we wouldn’t be talking, we’d be prosecuting (or maybe bypassing prosecution).

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      • Hi Richard, you are right, the word “medications” imply some type of medical intervention that is has scientific validity and demonstrated positive effect like antibiotics. The 20 years now that I have worked as a clinical social worker in various environments, inpt. state child/adolescent hospital, outpatient, schools, community mental health and now medical hospital, these “medications” have proved to be effective at the beginning of treatment at best for the most psychotic and depressed patients, but invariably their side effects in the long term far outweigh their benefits. Due to brillant advertising and promotion by the pharmaceutical industry, and psychiatrists as well as NPs and PCPs buying into this and overprescribing, lack of oversight and seeing “depression” and other “DSM” diagnoses that were once rare now prescribing in what is really just the normal, “worried well” population who have stressors related to the living in a changing world. I am sorry that your friend had to go through what she did, completely unnecessary trauma for her. Few psychotherapy sessions, a support group, linking her to kind, loving, supportive community supports. rest, relaxation, exercise, etc. should have been advised instead of rushing to prescribed drugs. Robert Whitaker’s presentations and research findings are absolutely right. I know I am angry at how the established professionals, many of my colleagues whom I have worked with are ignoring and discrediting this information and those like Mr. Whitaker who are just the messengers. How many victims do we need to stop this? Thank you, Richard, for your care and concern and activism. Keep it up. I will keep fighting this from inside out. Blessings of peace and health to you and your loved ones. Susan

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        • These things are drugs, plain and simple. They are not medications since they do nothing to “cure” the supposed “illness” and instead contribute to the problem. These are psychoactive drugs. The drugs given to kids that are supposedly ADHD are nothing more than legal meth. We are giving kids meth as a “medication”. What a joke. People buying meth on street corners can go to jail while we shove legal meth down the throats of our kids on a daily basis. What is wrong with this picture?

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      • It is interesting and disturbing how authors such as Brogan (and many other professionals) seem unable to understand or use the data about these drugs not being true “medications.” Nor to understand how calling them that advances a false narrative and misinforms clients about what these substances do.

        It reminds me of that story where a Jesuit priest describes how if he can get a young child into religious training for seven years, that child’s mind is his for life. This appears similar in some way to what happens to many psychiatrists – they get brainwashed for years with misinformation about how valid separable psychiatric diagnoses exist and can be “treated” with “medications”, and then they can’t get that misinformation out of their head…

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        • They don’t want to get the misinformation out of their heads because they would have to change way too many things in their lives and lifestyles and that’s just not a comfortable for most of them. When I deal with some of the psychiatrists where I work and I introduce the drug question I know without a doubt that they know that these things are the devil’s tic tacs; I can see it in their eyes. I know that they know that they’re doing harm to people by forcing them to take the drugs. But they can’t allow themselves to actually see this or think about it because then they can no longer claim to be the wonderful people that they want to be in everyone else’s eyes. No matter how much they stand there and try to refute the work of people like Courtney Harding and Harrow and the WHO and Loren Mosher I can see it in their eyes that they know the truth and they’re just blowing smoke through their hats. I can see it in their body language and I can feel the discomfort rolling off of them in waves. One of the truly amazing things is that many of them have never even heard of the people that I cite, people that you and I know and take their work as common knowledge. I can sense and feel the dishonesty and deceit seep out of them all over the place. And when they finally look me right in the eye I can see when they realize that I know that they’re full of bologna; it’s a look of fear because they realize that someone doesn’t buy into their pack of lies.

          And they are not brainwashed. They make a rational choice to buy into the lies and bologna. We have med students and interns in our “hospital” since we partner with the university medical school in the same city where we are located. Some of our psychiatrists “teach” them while they do their tour of duty with us. I have seen some of them stand up and challenge the psychiatrists about things like lack of informed consent and the use of the drugs on people. Not all o them have bought into the “mental health system.” But they are quickly told how the cow at the cabbage and about how they must conform or else they will have problems. They are not brainwashed, they know what they’re accepting and they pledge themselves to it.

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  5. Hi Kelly, I run out of time to peruse your articles, but always get back to the gist of your purposes and philosophy of care in my own favor when things get most personal. Of course, this is the debate process all around for other folks publishing their encounters and theories often enough and I have to admit the fact every time! That said, I just wanted to say one basic thing regarding some of your first introduced points of departure on alternative, holistic views on recovery.

    Reductive takes on history and sociology of behavioral healthcare can vary and stick to certain “developmental trait selections” as much as the people who cause adhesion to their virtually apocryphal character and subspecies their arrangements lead to us in outpatient support settings. Years and years of unsorted dead weight on the front burners of half-hearted (“undecided” patient vs. chemotherapist intestate questioner- advocates) critics like we have too many of, so far. Thanks for keeping it very realistic and for the economy of your approach to the series of debates that constitute the field from your vantage point on our usually gratutious and soporrific care options.

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  6. In fact, they were likely influenced by significant social, cultural, and economic factors, that, compounded by a deep sense of disconnection from others and community, left self-harm as the only seemingly viable option.

    Liberals destroy family http://www.google.com/search?q=liberals+destroy+family

    Now look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, http://www.google.com/search?q=maslow‘s+hierarchy+of+needs

    Take away a strong family now many of those needs are not so easy. No cheesy government program is going to replace family and neither is universal health care and a bunch of pills. More and more people are finding themselves alone in the world probably more so then ever before.

    I think youths in the USA join gangs as a substitute for the lack of a family in their own life.

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  7. “… psychotropic prescriptions are a Russian Roulette.” “Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun,” was playing on the radio when I escaped the psychiatric system, and I remember thinking Russian Roulette was exactly what my psychiatric torture was. And it is a wonder I wasn’t actually killed, given the massive drug quantities and combinations I was put on, one drug cocktail included 50mg Voltaren, 50mg Ultram, 900mg lithium, 25mg Zyprexa, 240mg Geodon (1 1/2 times the maximum recommended dose),150mg Trileptal, and 300mg Wellbutrin. Personally, I think this should be considered attempted murder, especially given what I later realized from reading my family’s medical records were my psychiatrist’s motives, covering up the sexual abuse of my child and proactively preventing a non-existent malpractice suit, due to a “bad fix” on a broken bone, for my PCP’s husband. My former PCP’s husband has subsequently killed another patient, also relating to an ankle problem.

    I do appreciate your mentioning, “These cases appear to occur predominantly in people who have genetic variants that reduces their liver’s ability to metabolize drugs, compounded by the use of multiple medications.” I came across mention of this liver issue in my medical research, but this is the first time I have seen it mentioned on MiA. And when I mention it to subsequent doctors, I have found “most doctors [are] unaware of this phenomenon.” And absolutely the psychiatrists think if one becomes “psychotic” (in my case due to anticholinergic toxidrome) from a child’s dose of a neuroleptic, given to treat the ADRs of the “safe smoking cessation med,” Wellbutrin, this means the person must be put on all the psychiatric drugs for life, rather than being taken off the drugs that caused the problem.

    I painted a self-portrait at the time, and I depicted how the adverse effects of these drugs felt, as blowing a giant bloody hole into my brain. No doubt, they could make anyone want to kill themselves.

    I do hope some day the medical community will learn that their “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions” way of proactively preventing potential legitimate malpractice suits and profiteering off of covering up child abuse is not actually acceptable or legal behavior.

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    • SomebodyElse,

      Actually (in 1985/6) my own psychiatrist was aware of this – because after my recovery I described my suicide attempts and restlessness on the drug Fluphenazine Decoanate to him and he was apologetic. But I was amazed when he told me that he could place another patient on 10 times or even 30 times my dosage and they would not react like this.

      But he was to go on to write research papers on the usefulness of the same drug. His university promoted this drug and made a lot of money doing this.

      At no stage did he mention that the reality was that these drugs were lehal – and that he had solid evidence of full recovery from stopping them.

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  8. What Daniel Mackler said was, “Suicide is the ultimate victory of the family system.”

    The importance of this could not be exaggerated. It is all variations on Medical Munchausen’s. You have Psychiatric Munchausen’s, Developmental Disabilities Munchausen’s, and good old fashioned Delinquency and Salvation Status Munchausen’s.

    Psychotherapy, Psychiatry, and Psychiatric Medications are all ways of enforcing the norms of the middle-class family and capitalism. The government is evil because it uses the middle-class family and capitalism to hold on to power.

    Until we organize and act, nothing about this is ever going to change.



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  9. Why is it that we still promote the idea that suicide is “permanent and self-destructive”?? Who says? We cannot accurately make either of those statements because the fact is – WE DON’T KNOW. For many, staying alive is the most self-destructive and permanent source of damage imaginable. If we truly cared about people, we would stop filtering their experience through our own or anyone else’s and help them in the way THEY ask for help, not in the the way WE think we should help them. A life of constant pain is not a gift, it’s not a miracle, and it’s not something that anyone who knows anything about it would EVER deliberately force someone into. AT BEST. Maybe one day our society will make death more readily available for those who simply don’t wish to be on this planet. It was not their choice (conscious anyway), and no one should have the right to make them stay. It’s a fucked up planet and if anyone can claim they’re happy at any given time, then they’re some of the lucky few. We don’t know shit. So we should stop pretending we do.

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    • In the Roman Empire death by one’s own hand was respected. It was often a form of protest against things going on in government or society at the time. A lot of the problem is caused by Christianity’s moralized approach to all of this. I agree, we need to be a lot more understanding about all this and quit pretending that we know anything about it. We are often just projecting our own stuff onto others when this is the topic of conversation.

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      • This is a tough area ethically, professionally and personally to discuss especially in brevity. Considering adolescents and young adults do not quite have the maturity and developed brain of adults yet and tend to more impulsive, think less long term and more in moment, with death rates due to car accidents and suicide high, I would say that I hope we have a society that tries to prevent premature death by one’s own hand for at least this age group. I would say that suicide attempts by this age group as I have seen are a permanent solution to temporary, transient problems that could be solved by better coping skills and age/maturity, i.e. break up, family conflict. We had a elderly woman come in to the hospital after attempting to commit suicide. She did not complete the act as she was found by her husband after ingestion of pills. When I first met her the first day she was angry. “I want to die, is not that my right?”. She talked about being a “burden” to her family with medical issues and felt her quality of life was not good. She had a loving family, successful son and she was a practicing Jewish woman. After a week in a geriatric medical psych. unit she came to see that by being with others with much more serious illnesses, i.e. Lewy Body dementia, Alzheimer’s and others with no family or friends most of their lives, that she came to see that her suicide attempt was rather “selfish” act, that it caused great suffering for her family. She left with renewed gratitude that she was loved and appreciated more than she realized by her family and that we all appreciated her gifts of humor and intelligence and sensitivity. She is now volunteering at a nursing home helping other elders. I was brought up myself in the Catholic faith though I have always liked being with other people of different faiths and religions, just an interest and curiosity of mine, Jesuit education encourages that. I do have my own Christian value system that is dominant but as a psychotherapist and social worker I have to put that aside, be objective, nonjudgmental when I am with clients and listen to them and understand their pain. I believe in a person’s ability to find their own answers to their problems but also that goodness lies within each of us and that a sense of belonging and community and understanding helps to alleviate the loneliness and pain of human suffering.

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        • I have felt suicidal, though I have moral problems with it. That has done more to keep me alive than anything else.

          People tempted to commit suicide do not need drugs, they need to know someone gives a rip about them!

          If I were to write a book about the flaws inherent in “mental health” I think I would title it “Shut Up and Take Your Prozac!” People don’t want to hear about suffering or pain. They want people to take the magic wonder drugs and go around with smiles pasted on to “normalize” them so the normals won’t feel uncomfortable around them any more.

          The mental illness system does little to help people’s morale when they are discouraged and downhearted. It also does absolutely nothing to solve the problems contributing to low morale. Joblessness, being treated like a social leper, poor or no housing, poverty, sickness, etc.

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    • Hey lenkie, that’s a valid argument.

      I just read this: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/06/for-centuries-animals-have-been-helping-us-understand-human-suicide.html which is an interesting analysis of suicide as individual choice vs. suicide as social choice. (I do disagree with the last paragraph about “mental illness,” but hey – not everybody “gets it.”)

      As a social choice, when an individual feels a burden to the herd, the most evolutionary thing is to take ones’ self out of the genetic picture. The example of the stag who saves his herd by throwing himself into the predator’s mouth was one example. Not breeding is another such choice.

      When humans have decimated their food, air, water, resources, effectively shitting the nest, and quality of life drops for so many at the bottom of the barrel, is it really suicide?

      I do agree, that as individuals, compassion and understanding is called for. Listening is vital. If a life wants to be saved, there will be a way.

      But sometimes trends are indicators of societies’ sickness as a whole, and the corporate and pharmaceutical approach to imprison, suck dry, squeeze the folks at the bottom so that their share value increases annually – has grim casualties. Psychiatric (and other) drugs, and their consequences, are symptomatic of this destruction of our species on a global level.

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  10. Two drugs showed tremendous efficacy, but had significant side effects leading to removal of the drug then reinstatement.

    1) Lithium: This was in carbonated soda: Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda known as 7-up. Well, it was removed from the market, under federal law. Lithium was reintroduced for treatment for Bipolar disorder, and remains the only treatment that lower suicidal rates in Bipolar disorder.
    2) Clozapine: The first atypical anti-psychotic, was really a chemotherapeutic, and offered 30% rate of remission for individuals with psychosis but was removed from the market because of agranulocytosis.

    These medications are unique and have no equivalent. I suspect these medications affect nucleolar transcription, the protein regulators of mRNA transcription, as both Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder are generalized disorders overall.

    But the fact remains, that American society does not reward saving a life as much as it punishes a medical complication. We have come to expect that lives “should be saved”. Thus, if Clozaril affects 0.17% of patients with agranulocytosis and 1 in 2,000 die, Novartis will get sued, unless (1) The psychosis was refractory (2) There was signed consent. It does not matter that if you treat 2,000 people with Clozaril, 20 people would be prevented from committing suicide. We will not tolerate 2o potential saved lives for one death unless their are extreme circumstances. Thus, Clozaril is hardly ever used.

    For some reason, all the other “Atypical” antipsychotics do not have the power of Clozaril, nor the side effects, nor demonstrate the powerful remission. Only Clozaril was demonstrated to improve the negative symptoms of schizophrenia in study after study. This has been demonstrated today in developing countries which have continued success with Clozaril. But in the United States, the drug will not be used.

    We will see a change in prescription practice with new imaging models. When fMRI and SPECT can:

    1) Visualize with biomarkers in real time for bipolar and schizophrenia
    2) When the drugs can be given, and demonstrate on direct visualization “normalization” of the brain
    3) When we have genetic markers that can map the disease within the cell associated with the damaged protiens
    4) We will then be able to use targeted therapy beyond neurotransmitter modification to treat or potentially cure the disease

    If we take a look at the molecular structure of a medication, we often can guess the effect. Look at Zoloft and look at Ativan. Then read the packet insert for Zoloft:

    “The efficacy of ZOLOFT in maintaining a response, in adult patients with panic disorder who
    responded during a 52-week treatment phase while taking ZOLOFT and were then observed for
    relapse during a period of up to 28 weeks, was demonstrated in a placebo-controlled trial (see
    Clinical Trials under CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY). Nevertheless, the physician who elects
    to use ZOLOFT for extended periods should periodically re-evaluate the long-term usefulness of
    the drug for the individual patient (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).”

    Read the followup studies about patients who reported being “addicted” to Zoloft and having benzo withdrawal.

    Then read the cross reactivity:

    Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2009 Jul; 6(7): 36–39.
    Published online 2009 Jul.
    PMCID: PMC2728940
    False-Positive Urine Screening for Benzodiazepines: An Association with Sertraline?
    A Two-year Retrospective Chart Analysis

    If the tox screen cross reacts with Zoloft, it is because it was a mild anti-anxiety benzo medication marketed as an antidepressant. A similar medication mis-marketed is Welbutrin, which is a bytl substituted phenyl-ethyl-amine amphetamine. Prozac is superior overall to Zoloft and Welbutrin because it is Benadryl analog.

    Modern psychiatric medications are often designer drugs. It is not uncommon that a pharmaceutical company will develop thousands of potential compounds, one substitution after another, hoping to find a medication that works in people. The reality, is that the medications almost always follows the nature of the mother classifications. Once the pharmaceutical company nails the compound, and the compound works in people, it is now a medication. It ceases to be a rubber and is now a tire, and soon, will cease to be a tire, it will be a Michelin or a Goodyear until the day it goes generic, an then, it will become a tire, and the world will one day forget about the drug, efficacious or not, and it will be seen as mere rubber, no different than countless NSAIDS and countless past anti-depressants.

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  11. Society is structured to run on the functioning sick, and those who won’t or can’t function are taken care of with the side effects of these medications.

    They used illegal drugs and alcohol in the past to function and still do which causes and caused this as well, now a lot of it is replaced with prescribed medications.

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  12. I recently finished reading Dr. Brogan’s book, which is impeccably written. I do have a question.

    Dr. Brogan writes,

    “These cases appear to occur predominantly in people who have genetic variants that reduces their liver’s ability to metabolize drugs, compounded by the use of multiple medications.”

    Could this suicidal-preoccupation and/or akasthesia be brought on from having been on numerous medications for many, many years? In my own case, I have now been on medications for 15 years total. Starting about five and a half years ago, I started experiencing a lot of problems with many medications. Some of them are physical problems that I now experience with anti-psychotics. But also, medications that used to help me will sometimes have new, bizarre effects. For example, if I take clonazepam too many days in a row, I become suicidal. This never used to happen.

    I wonder if this is what Dr. Brogan is speaking about?

    Regarding the physical symptoms, I’ve been to a couple neurologists, and they can find nothing wrong with me, including on the MRIs of my brain and spine. They then tell me the symptoms must be all psychosomatic, and I should consult a psychiatrist. Never mind that the pdoc was the one to tell me to see a neurologist!

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