Suicide is not an illness or a disease, but it is something that is contemplated, or actually happens when an individual’s mental health has reached its nadir. Life has become unbearable, and the person cannot contemplate going on with it.
What causes this level of despair? Of course, there are many social and emotional reasons, all connected with the life of any individual who is contemplating suicide. Suicide has been with us, no doubt, since time began. Likewise, the depression that causes suicidal ideation has been with us from the beginnings of time.
The World Health Organisation tells us this about the rates of, and the importance of suicide, and attempted suicide.
“Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. Hence, many millions of people are affected or experience suicide bereavement every year. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally in 2012”.
WHO go on to explain that in the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide, and that suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). They also said that suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides, and that mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide.
Yet there is another cause for concern, one which is seldom discussed or thought about, certainly not by the Conventional Medical Establishment. This is that there are a variety of conventional medical drugs are known to cause, and to increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts, and suicide.
If depression is a major cause of suicide, the conventional treatment of depression is known to increase it too! This paradox is common with pharmaceutical drugs, that their D.I.E.s can actually increase the disease they are given to treat!
This association is well recognised in the conventional medical world. For instance, the FDA requires all antidepressant drugs to include strong warnings about risks of suicidal thinking and behaviour, especially in children, adolescents and young adults. Many doctors seek to justify their use of these drugs on the basis that untreated depression can also be linked with suicide. Of course it can! But to give depressed people drugs that increase the likelihood of suicide seems to be an extraordinary policy, although one routinely practised by our conventional doctors!
One group of antidepressant, SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors), including drugs like Prosac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro and Luvox, have been particularly associated with an increased risk of suicide, especially in children and young people. Even in the drug tests that preceded their approval and introduction about 4% of patients were found to experience suicidal thinking or behaviour, as well as actual suicide attempts.
Yet prescribing antidepressant drugs has become routine, common practice, and the consumption of these drugs has mirrored the increase in suicide rates over the last 50 to 60 years. It has been estimated that some 164 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants in 2008 alone, and sales of SSRIs alone increased by 32% from 2000 to 2004. It is likely that they have increased significantly since then.
Antidepressants have also been linked to akathisia, which can cause extreme restlessness, an inability to be still. The discomfort of this ‘side effect’ are known to be so great that suicide can become a welcome alternative to such agitation.
Prosac, perhaps the best known SSRI antidepressant, is known to have a stimulant effect, similar to amphetamines, which can in turn lead to suicide. An FDA official, who was responsible for evaluating adverse drug effects during the approval of this drug, repeatedly warned that it could have this effect - without avail!
Drugs for Parkinson’s Disease
Drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease are also implicated in causing suicide. Friends of Robin Williams have linked the drugs he was taking for Parkinson’s, alongside a plethora of other drugs, with his death. Unfortunately, this may have had an unfortunate consequence, in that it has triggered fierce denials from the conventional medical establishment, angry at this link being made.
The denials are, as usual, that Parkinson’s disease is a condition that causes depression, and that suicidal ideation might be the result of this depression, and not the drugs.
Yet the prevalence of suicide amongst people with Parkinson’s is well known. And the link with drugs used for Parkinson's is also known, and in some cases is published on inserts in the boxes the drug is dispensed in. This one, for instance, is for the Levodopa drug, Cardidopa monohydrate.
“Depression - you or your carer should seek medical advice if there are changes to your mental state or behaviour, if you are depress or have thoughts of committing suicide”.
Suicide is not always mentioned in websites as a ‘side-effect’ of Levodopa, but it is in others, such as this RxList website. One D.I.E mentioned is “confusion, hallucinations, anxiety, agitation, depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself”.
The study that produced the evidence of the drug being linked to suicide is here. It states the following in its abstract:
“Little is known about the prevalence and correlates of suicidal behaviour in Parkinson's disease (PD). In the first part of the study, we followed a cohort of 102 consecutive PD patients for 8 years and found that the suicide-specific mortality was 5.3 times higher than expected. In the second part, we tested 128 PD patients for death and suicidal ideation and administered an extensive neurological, neuropsychological and psychiatric battery. Current death and/or suicidal ideation was registered in 22.7%…… In conclusion, the suicide risk in PD may not be as high as it is expected, but it is certainly not trivial. According to our data almost a quarter of PD patients had death and/or suicidal ideation, that may significantly influence their quality of life”.
As much as the Conventional Medical Establishment might like to attack this study, they are still unable to provide evidence that it is the Parkinson's, and not the drug used for Parkinson's, that is causing the high rates of suicide in Parkinson’s patients! So we just have to trust their denials, and their re-assurances!
But this attitude is also a hostage to fortune! If we follow their logic, that is, if you are depressed you are likely to have suicidal ideation, then any drug that causes depression (and there are plenty of these, and a later blog will point out) should be considered as a likely cause of suicide!
There are other conventional medical drugs known to create suicidal ideation, and I will outline just three here.
Accutane is a drug used for severe Acne. It is also marketed under the names Isotretinoin, Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret, and probably others. The FDA’s has reported that this drug is the fifth most related to depression, and that it is also one of the top 10 drugs linked to an increased risk of suicide. Indeed, Accutane is linked to many serious D.I.E.s, including Crohn’s disease, liver damage, depression, miscarriage, and birth defects if taken during pregnancy.
Many Accutate users have reported depression and suicidal behaviour. From 1982 to 2005, the FDA received reports of 190 suicides by Accutane users. In 2003 there were so many reports that Accutane was listed as one the top ten drugs associated with depression and suicide attempts.
Chantix in the USA, Chanpix in the UK, is a drug prescribed to stop the smoking habit. The FDA thought the risk of suicide from this drug warranted a ‘black box’ warning on its packaging in 2009. Apparently, the symptoms of depression and suicide can appear shortly after taking Chantix, and that it can quickly progress to dangerous levels.
There is a Chantix lawsuit pending in the USA following hundreds of Chantix users reporting incidents following the drug's approval. Apparently, in one 18-month period, over 300 reports of Chantix suicide and depression incidents were reported directly to the FDA.
By 2014, the drug was linked to over 500 suicides. But obviously, the Conventional Medical Establishment still feels it is a suitable drug to continue selling and prescribing to us, as it is still not banned!
Darvocet, Darvan, Co-Proxamol
Darvocet or Darvan in the USA, Co-Proxamol in the UK, is an Opiate painkiller that was long associated with depression and increasing suicidal tendencies. Apparently, deaths occurring within one hour of overdosing with this drug were not uncommon. Over 3,000 reports of serious problems associated with Darvocet / Darvon were received by the FDA, including many suicide reports. The ‘Drug Abuse Warning Network’, a US government database reporting on emergency room visits, showed 503 Darvon-related deaths just in 2007, with at least 20% of all deaths being reported as suicides.
Co-Proxamol was investigated by Oxford University’s ‘Centre for Suicide Research’, and their study found that “the risk of dying after co-proxamol overdose was 2.3 times that for tricyclic antidepressants and 28.1 times that for paracetamol”, the main ingredients of the drug”.
As a result of this, and other findings, it was ‘withdrawn’ by the MHRA in January 2005.
However, the USA took another four years (during which time the drug was presumably still sold to unsuspecting patients) before the FDA finally banned the drug in November 2010. However, because of its addictive qualities, many young people are still taking the drug for ‘recreational’ purposes!
Perhaps one of the longer lasting legacies of our much lauded pharmaceutical industry!
This is not an exhaustive list of the Big Pharma drugs known to cause suicide, but it is hopefully sufficient to ensure that anyone who is taking, or planning to take ANY pharmaceutical drug to undertake a thorough web search for possible associations. Your doctor won't tell you! And your life might depend upon it!