Courtesy of yobluemama2 on Twitter, I’ve come across an interesting article. It’s called Psychiatric Drugs and Suicide, by Janne Larsson, a reporter. It’s posted on PsychRights.org, a law project for psychiatric rights.
The article focuses on suicides committed in Sweden in 2006-2007, and the proportions of victims who had taken psychiatric drugs in the period prior to the suicide. The study also covers data from autopsy reports.
Information for the study was gathered under Sweden’s freedom of information act. Here’s a summary of the main findings.
2006 Suicide and Psychiatric Drug Use in Preceding 18 Months
Number. of Suicides
|Took antidepressants in preceding 18 months.|
|Took antidepressants or neuroleptics in preceding 18 months.|
|Took antidepressants or neurolpetics or hypnotics/tranquilizers in preceding 18 months.|
2007 Autopsy Reports on Suicide Victims
|Number of Suicide Autopsies|
|Traces of antidepressants in blood|
|Traces of psychiatric drugs (all categories) in blood|
The essential results are: Of the 1,255 people who committed suicide in Sweden in 2006, 55% had taken antidepressants or neuroleptics or sedative/hypnotics in the preceding 18 months.
Of the 1,109 suicide victims who were autopsied in 2007, traces of psychiatric drugs were found in the blood in 52% of cases.
The report also points out that although approximately 1,200 suicides occur each year in Sweden, the National Board of Health and Welfare is required to investigate only those that occurred within four weeks after victim’s last health care visit. This amounts to approximately 400 per year. In 2007, 393 cases met the criteria for investigation. Of these, 338 (86%) had received psychiatric drugs in the 12 months preceding the suicide. These 338 individuals had received an average of four different drugs in the year before the suicide.
In Sweden, doctors are required to report adverse drug effects to the Medical Products Agency. Not one of the 338 cases mentioned above was reported as an adverse drug effect.
This study does not prove that psychiatric drugs cause people to commit suicide. The psychiatric-pharma people could argue, for instance, that without the drugs the suicide rate would have been even higher, and that the drugs saved lives. Actually, this is their routine pitch. But it’s becoming less tenable each year.
The fact that, in Sweden at least, 55% of suicide victims in 2006 had received psychiatric treatment (i.e. drugs) in the previous 18 months, and that 52% of 2007’s victims autopsied had detectable levels of these drugs in their blood, ought to raise serious questions about the efficacy of the treatment.
A definitive study of this question is overdue, particularly here in the US, arguably the psychiatric Mecca of the world. It is widely believed that there is a causal link between psychiatric drug use on the one hand, and suicide and acts of serious violence on the other. In 2000, Joseph Glenmullen – a psychiatrist – wrote: “And startling new information on Prozac’s precipitating suicidal and violent behavior has come to light.” (Prozac Backlash, p 8)
And still the psychiatry spin continues: It’s not the drugs; it’s the illness. We need more treatment!