News File: Jan-June 2014

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June 12 2014

GerardEvansThe Manchester Evening Newsreported today that 86-year-old Gerard Evans (left) has been left “like a zombie” after being wrongly prescribedSertraline during a stay of almost three weeks at Salford Royal Hospital for breathing problems.

Mr Evans’s wife Shirley said: “He was like a rag doll and couldn’t move, but we didn’t realise he had been on antidepressants until we received a phone call from the pharmacist asking, “How long has he been on antidepressants?”

His hospital discharge note confirms there had been an ‘error in medications’ and advised Mr Evans to ‘reduce the Sertraline with help from a GP.’ He is being weaned off the tablets, which he says have left him “weak and lifeless.”

Mr Evans is sleeping on the settee in the lounge of his home because he can’t climb the stairs. He has to be helped to the bathroom by his wife, who said: “He now looks dead all the time. He is just gone. He went in hospital feeling better than when he came out.”

A director of the hospital stated that: “The error involving Mr Evans’ medication will be thoroughly investigated.”

 

June 5 2014

LeighStation1The Daily Mail reported yesterday that 38 year-old Peter Anderson attempted to take his life by jumping in front of a train at Leigh Station (right) in Essex last month. Peter was stopped by police officers, and was subsequently prosecuted for trespassing. He pleaded guilty, and was given a three-month conditional discharge.

However, concerns have been raised over whether Peter should have been prosecuted in the first place. A friend said: “This was a cry for help. But all that has happened up until now is he has been given drugs by doctors and pulled up in court rather than talked to or sent to something like rehab and given the help he so desperately needs. It seems like a waste of taxpayers’ money, especially as the clear answer is to give him help.”

In court, Peter’s solicitor explained why Peter had tried to take his own life. She said: “My client has fallen on hard times. He has been out of work for some time now since losing his driving licence and … has struggled to find a new job. This incident was a cry for help and he needs support to get back on the mend.”

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said that the prosecution was in the public interest, as: “In this case, due to the fact the defendant was on prohibited land, namely train tracks, and by his doing so could harm or cause distress to other members of the public and/or their safety it is clear that it was in the public interest to proceed. This course of action we hope would also deter anyone else from acting in the same manner in the future.”

 

June 3 2014

MarianPageIn January this year, Cumbria Police organised a search for 54-year-old teacher Marian Page (left), who had been reported missing.

Yesterday’s inquest heard that Marian’s body was found in an isolated and exposed spot in the Castle Carrock area, on a flat area exposed to a freezing cold wind, while her rucksack and a number of other items, including her mobile phone and someantidepressant drugs, were in a nearby sheltered gully. There was also a “living will” stating that she did not want to be resuscitated if anybody found her alive. Coroner David Roberts said that he was satisfied that Marian had intended to end her own life.

Among many tributes paid to her by colleagues and students at the time of her death, Marian was described as an inspirational teacher whose kindness and professionalism helped to transform the lives of her pupils.

 

May 31 2014

JakeMcGillLynchIn March of last year, 14-year-old schoolboy Jake McGill-Lynch (right) died in Dublin as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Jake was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in early 2012 and suffered from anxiety issues. In January 2013, his anxiety appeared to be increasing due to his upcoming Junior Certificate. He was referred to consultant child psychiatrist Dr Maria Migone, who prescribed Prozac.

Jake’s mother Stephanie told his inquest yesterday that she would never have agreed to his taking Prozac if she had known the side-effects. She added that she and her husband were not informed that side-effects of Prozac include an increase in suicidal ideation. When they collected the prescription, no patient information leaflet was included. She said that, in the USA, Prozac carries a ‘black label’ warning that it should be given to under-18s with anxiety problems only after all other avenues are exhausted.

“My child is dead. I was not told this could happen. My husband and I were not given any literature . . .  if we were, there is no mother in her right mind going to let their child have a drug that can cause suicide and self-harm when they are suffering from those symptoms in the first place. Asperger’s is not an illness, it is a condition that no tablet or medication is going to fix,” she said.

The inquest has been adjourned for further evidence.

 

May 14 2014

SparksPolicePolice officers in the town of Sparks, Nevada, held a press conference (left) yesterday after concluding their investigation into a shooting incident at the local high school.

The officers told how, less than 10 minutes after his mother dropped him off at school on the morning of October 21stof last year, 12-year-old pupil José Reyes shot dead a maths teacher and wounded two classmates before turning the gun on himself. José had taken his parents’ 9mm Ruger pistol and two magazines of ammunition from a kitchen cabinet.

JoseReyesJosé (right) had struggled with speech problems since kindergarten, and had told his parents how he had been teased at school, called “gay” and accused of wetting his pants. His mother said that she thought that he had displayed signs of autism.

Just three days before the tragedy, José’s father had taken him to a psychotherapist, who prescribed Prozac.

Police found a note written “to teachers and students,” in which he indicated that he would “get revenge.” On José’s phone, police officers found images of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot dead 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999, while they, too, were on psychiatric medication.

Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen said that José acted alone and did not communicate his plan to anyone. He concluded: “We will never know the complete motive or intent behind this tragic incident as the only person with the true knowledge felt acting out in violence and taking his own life was the best course of action. That in itself is a tragedy.”

 

May 4 2014

PeterHitchens4Under the headline “One simple question will tell us all we need to know about drugs”,Peter Hitchens (left) writes in today’s Mail on Sunday:

“I see that even the slow learners in the media are at last picking up on the mountains of reputable research which show that ‘antidepressants’ are vastly over-prescribed even on their own terms, often have unpleasant side effects, and may not actually be any more effective against ‘depression’ than sugar pills.

“Others all eventually follow where this column has led for years, though, of course, they never admit it.

“So here’s a new challenge for the slow learners. I cannot see how anyone can oppose it. Can we please now have a  simple rule for all coroners, magistrates  and judges?

“Wherever someone has taken his own life, or wherever someone is accused of taking someone else’s life, or of an act of dangerous violence, the police, doctors and pathologists involved should be required to discover whether that person has ever been a user of mind-altering drugs, whether legally prescribed, or illegal.

“I believe that if this question is asked, it will become plain that there is a frightening correlation between such drugs and such acts. Then, at last, we can do something.”

 

April 25 2014

JohnReadThe Daily Telegraph published an article this week in which it was revealed that, in England, prescriptions for antidepressants have increased by almost 25% in the last 3 years.

This evoked a response from Professor John Read(right), who is a Clinical Psychologist in the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society. Professor Read has recently published astudy which revealed that over a third of those taking antidepressants reported having suicidal thoughts as a result.

HappyPills1Under the headline Viewpoint: The ‘medicalisation of human distress , the University websitepublished Professor Read’s article:

“This bizarre level of the medicalisation of human distress could be considered a national scandal.

“If there really has been that kind of increase in the number of people needing treatment for depression then we should surely be trying to address the causes of that – starting with poverty, in a country with one of the highest levels of inequality in the world.”

Fuelled by drug companies

“I suspect, however, that the increases are largely fuelled by drug companies and psychiatrists with a rather simplistic, biological view of mental health problems, who try to persuade the public that sadness and grief are signs of an ‘illness’ called ‘depression’ which somehow causes our sadness and grief.

“Drug company advertising is particularly targeted at women, who are twice as likely to be prescribed antidepressants as men.

“Our 2009 survey of depression websites found that the 42% that are drug company funded promulgated an illness model of depression.

“Our 2014 survey of nearly 2,000 people taking antidepressants found the following rates of adverse effects: sexual difficulties – 62%, emotional numbing – 60%, drowsiness – 58%, reduced positive feelings – 42%, and, of particular concern, suicidality 39%.”

No more effective than a placebo

“Furthermore these drugs have been shown to be no more effective than a placebo for all but a small minority of the most severely depressed people, meaning that the vast majority are being exposed to these adverse effects without receiving any benefit beyond the placebo effects of hope and expectation.

“The situation is likely to become even worse if doctors deploy the new diagnostic criteria for depression in the recently published fifth edition of the `Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’ which reduces the time of ‘normal’ grieving after the loss of a loved one from two months to two weeks, after which time one supposedly has a disorder in need of treatment.”

 

April 9 2014

The bodies of 55-year-old Stephen Dohoney and his 86-year-old mother Olwyn (right) were discovered at their Manchester home last November.

This week, their joint inquest heard that Stephen was a former graduate of Exeter University who had worked for the Department of Pensions. When his older brother Kenneth died from leukaemia a year earlier, Stephen, described as a “devoted son”, took a career break to look after his housebound mother.

At some point after this time, Stephen began to become increasingly worried about his own health. He was frightened that he had cancer and stopped going out with his friends.

In fact, Stephen did not have any form of cancer. However, he had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was on medication, including Citalopram.

Olwyn’s body was found in her bed. She had been repeatedly stabbed in the chest and neck. On her body, Stephen had placed a note alongside three photographs – one of her, one of Kenneth, and one of her late husband Jack, his father. His note read: I wanted to die. I can’t cope with life anymore. I’m going to have another breakdown. Mum would not have survived without me and would have said it was her fault so I have sent her to Heaven. We have lived together all our lives so we should die together.”

Stephen then hanged himself in the loft space. A knife was found by his body and he had arranged his personal effects.NigelMeadows

In his summing-up, coroner Nigel Meadows (left) did not refer to the medication when hesaid: “I suspect he did have some form of mental health problem. Obviously that does not give him any right to try and harm anyone else, particularly his mother. He may have been doing so for in his mind trying to do the best he could for his mum but that is unlawful.”

March 28 2014

An inquest in Gloucestershire heard yesterday that 15-year-old Joseph Gwilliam hanged himself at home on August 22nd last year. He was a talented artist, and was described as “bright, brave, modest, forgiving, polite and unique” by his parents.

Joe developed necrotising enterocolitis as a newborn baby, necessitating surgery. Joseph spent much of his childhood in and out of various hospitals for treatment for his gastro-intestinal problems, and was awaiting an in-patient colonoscopy. He had been prescribed Gabapentin.

Coroner Katy Skerrett said she had requested further information about the drug when she opened the inquest last December, after noting a link between Gabapentin and side-effects of suicidal inclinations.

Neurontin1That same month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Pfizer’s appeal against a $142 million award for the illegal marketing of Neurontin.  The ruling paves the way for a class-action suit seeking damages on behalf of insurers, union funds and employers who paid for ineffective dosages of Neurontin.

Neurontin is also known by the generic name of Gabapentin. It was originally developed to treat epilepsy, but was also marketed by Pfizer for the relief of bipolar disorders, neuropathic pain and migraines. Pfizer was found to have suppressed or misrepresented clinical studies which showed that the drug was ineffective for those treatments. Internal Pfizer documents showed that the company knew that the drug was ineffective, and referred to it as “the ‘snake oil’ of the 20th century.”

MichaelHatcher1As Mrs Skerrett pointed out, Neurontin has been associated with suicidal thoughts. Earlier this year, the family of Michael Hatcher (left) from Worcestershire blamed Neurontin for his suicide.

Nevertheless, Mrs Skerrett stated: “I am now satisfied that this allegation is undermined by further studies and it is the chronic pain itself which can lead to suicidal thoughts.”

“He has had a lifelong history of pain and health problems and missed a great deal of school as a result of this, which led to him perhaps feeling somewhat isolated,” said the coroner, recording a verdict of suicide.

 

March 25 2014

A judge in Winnipeg, Canada, ruled last week that a 15-year-old boy who fatally stabbed a close friend did so because of the effects of Prozac.

The boy had been prescribed Prozac in July 2009. When his parents subsequently voiced concerns about his deteriorating behaviour, specialists in Winnipeg responded by actually increasing the dose. “On Prozac he was becoming more irrational and aggressive,” said Mr. Brodsky, the boy’s lawyer. “That should have been a warning. That warning wasn’t heeded.” On September 20th 2009, while at home with two male friends, he stabbed one of them with a kitchen knife.

PeterBregginDr Peter Breggin (right), who has testified in a number of cases in the USA where antidepressants have led to murder or other violence, and who reviewed the Winnipeg case, said: “These drugs produce a stimulant or activation continuum. That continuum includes aggression, hostility, loss of impulse control … all of which are a prescription for violence.”

The official “product monograph” approved by Health Canada for Prozac says that the drugs are not recommended for use on adolescents, and warns that agitation, hostility and aggression might ensue. Doctors are, however, allowed to prescribe medications “off label” to patients even when the approval does not expressly permit it.

Judge Heinrich concluded that the prescription of Prozac set off a steady deterioration in the boy’s behaviour. “He had become irritable, restless, agitated, aggressive and unclear in his thinking,” the judge said. “It was while in that state that he overreacted in an impulsive, explosive and violent way. Now that his body and mind are free and clear of any effects of Prozac, he is simply not the same youth in behaviour or character.”

Although the boy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, the judge cited the drug’s side-effects as a reason not to raise the case to adult court, and to mete out a sentence of just 10 months, on top of two years already spent in prison.

 

March 19 2014

JacquelineLakeFollowing an inquest yesterday, Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake (right) is going to write to NHS England to voice concern that patients need clearer information on the side-effects of antidepressant drugs.

65-year-old Susan Poore from Sheringham, known to her friends as Dena, was a retired payroll administrator and mother of two children. She was prescribed Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Mirtazapine around 5 weeks before her death.

DenaPooreOn April 24th last year, Mrs Poore (left) had forced a train to perform an emergency stop. The train driver reported someone inches from the line but, after he stopped, he saw the person walking away. The following week, on May 3rd, Mrs Poore returned the same spot near East Runton, stood on the tracks with her back to the train and there was nothing the driver could do.

Mrs Poore had been in good health until a flu vaccination in October 2011 led to a series of complaints including insomnia. This prevented her from enjoying the rural walks and trips to visit family that she had undertaken previously, and began to impact on her mental health.

Her heartbroken family said she had been acting completely out of character in the lead-up to the tragedy, and that the drugs had changed her personality.

Mrs Poore was first prescribed antidepressants by her GP on March 29th. Mrs Lake said that it was a “proper” decision to prescribe the drugs and that the mother-of-two displayed signs of depression before she began the course of medication.

But she said that Mrs Poore’s mental health deteriorated after the prescription, and voiced concern that patients were not given enough warning of “possible side-effects of taking these medications in the initial stages.”

In a short narrative conclusion, Mrs Lake said: “Mrs Poore stepped in front of a train and suffered fatal injuries. At the time Mrs Poore was taking antidepressant medication.”

NHSEnglandMrs Poore’s daughter, Katie Silvester, 44, said that she was pleased concerns were being raised with NHS England. “People think if you take antidepressants they will make you happier,” she said. “But it’s such a strong drug and can have the opposite effect, and if you’re depressed and start feeling suicidal. If patients were told to look out for it, it might be a different story. She could have stopped taking the drugs. I hope it will contribute towards this not happening in the future.”

 

March 17 2014

UnivLiverpoolA recent study carried out by Liverpool University revealed that over a third of those taking antidepressants reported having suicidal thoughts as a result.

The study was carried out in New Zealand, and all of the 1829 participants had been on antidepressants in the last five years. Each person completed an online questionnaire which asked about 20 adverse effects.  The survey factored in people’s levels of depression and asked them to report on how they had felt while taking the medication.

Over half of people aged 18 to 25 in the study reported suicidal feelings, and in the total sample there were large percentages of people suffering from ‘sexual difficulties’ (62%) and ‘feeling emotionally numb’ (60%). Percentages for other effects included: ‘feeling not like myself’ (52%), ‘reduction in positive feelings’ (42%), ‘caring less about others’ (39%) and ‘withdrawal effects’ (55%).

JohnReadPsychologist and lead researcher, Professor John Read (right), from Liverpool University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: “The medicalisation of sadness and distress has reached bizarre levels. One in ten people in some countries are now prescribed antidepressants each year.

“While the biological side-effects of antidepressants, such as weight gain and nausea, are well documented, the psychological and interpersonal effects have been largely ignored or denied. They appear to be alarmingly common.”

Professor Read concluded: “Effects such as feeling emotionally numb and caring less about other people are of major concern. Our study also found that people are not being told about this when prescribed the drugs.

“Our finding that over a third of respondents reported suicidality ‘as a result of taking the antidepressants’ suggests that earlier studies may have underestimated the problem.”

 

February 26 2014

Margaret & Donald Knight
Margaret & Donald Knight

78-year-old Northamptonshire farmer and ex-haulage company owner Donald Knight and his 77-year-old wife Margaret were described as “a couple who loved each other’s company.” They were said to be devoted to one another and enjoyed going on 3-month cruises.

And yet, on Margaret’s birthday, May 1st last year, Donald shot her dead with a rifle, then shot their dog, before shooting himself with a shotgun.

Yesterday’s inquest heard that Donald thought that he had cancer, and that he was in financial trouble, neither of which were true. On a visit to his GP in the previous month, Donald told her that he had trouble sleeping and he was feeling low and unable to manage the farm. Donald was prescribed antidepressants.

Summing up the inquest, Coroner Anne Pember completely ignored the possibility that Donald’s actions may well have been the result of an adverse reaction to his medication, when she said: “I believe when Mr Knight was feeling low and depressed, not only did he take his own life, I believe he made a decision that his wife, of whom he was the main carer, that she should die as well on her birthday.”

 

February 21 2014

ClaireTurpinFormer hotel manager Claire Turpin (right) longed to have children but had struggled to conceive. Eventually, at the age of 42, and after lengthy fertility treatment, she gave birth to twins Jack and Eliza.

Although Claire looked after the children to an ‘extremely high standard’, she developed an irrational belief that she was not good enough to care for them. Her GP prescribed antidepressants, and she was subsequently referred to a mental health team after talking about self-harming.

Three months after the birth, Claire jumped from the top of the multi-storey car park at John Lewis in Sheffield.

At Claire’s inquest this week, her mother Kath Sugden rightly criticised the medical support that her daughter was given, telling the hearing: “All that happened was that Claire went to the doctor and came home with another batch of tablets.”

Recording a suicide verdict, Sheffield coroner Julian Fox said that while treatment was ‘ultimately ineffective’, he believed it was offered ‘promptly and appropriately’.

I would suggest to the coroner that treating post-natal depression with antidepressants is not appropriate. As I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, PND is completely different from clinical depression, and should not be treated as such. And, although the number of young mothers who take their lives continues to grow, I am still yet to find a single inquest where the suicide of a young mother was attributed to unmedicated post-natal depression.

 

January 30 2014

LeeBonsall1Lee Bonsall (left) returned from Afghanistan in October 2006, traumatised by a tour of duty in which his best friend had been killed. He took sick leave and requested early release, but was asked to “stick it out” for another 6 months. Lee was not assessed until May 2007, when an MOD psychiatrist concluded that Lee did not have PTSD, but was nevertheless classed as “temporarily unsuitable.” Lee was administratively discharged 4 months later after attempting self-harm.

Lee moved from Nottinghamshire to Tenby after meeting his Pembrokeshire-born wife Serena. He took a job as a sales assistant in a local supermarket.

Shortly before his death, Lee visited a local GP as he was suffering from a low mood. Therapy was considered “unviable” as there was a 10-month waiting list, and Lee was given a repeat prescription for Citalopram.

On March 3 2012, Serena found Lee hanged at their home. He was just 24 years old. At today’s inquest, Pembrokeshire coroner Mark Layton recorded a narrative verdict, and is to ask for a review of mental health procedures for soldiers. The coroner will also petition the Minister for Health over “the practice of allowing repeat prescriptions for the antidepressant drug Citalopram.”

SerenaLeeBonsallSerena (right, with Lee) appeared last July in the BBC Panorama documentary Broken by Battle. My article which followed the programme featured a number of ex-soldiers who had taken their lives after having been prescribed antidepressants.

Prescribing antidepressants for PTSD does not comply with NICE guidelines, and many specialists agree that it is likely to do more harm than good. For somebody who is recovering from traumatic experiences, exposure to mind-changing medication can have tragic consequences.

Serena is at present raising money for Combat Stress, the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society.

 

January 22 2014

PeterGotzschePeter Gøtzsche (left) is a prominent medical researcher, and leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen. He is a specialist in internal medicine, and has been researching antidepressants for several years.

He recently wrote an article in which he set out to dispel a number of the most erroneous myths about medicating depression, which he said were “harmful to patients”:

Myth 1: Your disease is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain

Myth 2: It’s no problem to stop treatment with antidepressants

Myth 3: Psychotropic drugs for mental illness are like insulin for diabetes

Myth 4: Psychotropic drugs reduce the number of chronically ill patients

Myth 5: Happy pills do not cause suicide in children and adolescents

Myth 6: Happy pills have no side effects

Myth 7: Happy pills are not addictive

Myth 8: The prevalence of depression has increased a lot

Myth 9: The main problem is not over-treatment, but under-treatment

Myth 10: Antipsychotics prevent brain damage

Peter explains just why each of these myths is so harmful in the full article, which can be found at the website of Dr David Healy, one of the world’s leading experts in psychiatric medication. It is well worth reading.

 

January 21 2014

AndrewPhrydasAndrew Phrydas (right), 23, a talented artist and car enthusiast, was killed last June at Finsbury Park tube station when he was struck by a Piccadilly Line train after running into a Victoria Line tunnel.

The London Evening Standard revealed today that, at an inquest in November, Transport for London (TfL) was criticised by a coroner after staff had switched the power off on the Victoria Line but not on the Piccadilly Line, which runs alongside and intersects the other.

FinsburyParkIn March 2012, Andrew had been treated at mental health units at before he was discharged in April and received care at home.  On the day of his death, Andrew was travelling to Ilford to buy a car. At Finsbury Park, a passenger became alarmed that Andrew was about to jump in front of a train and tried to pull him back from the platform edge.

Andrew’s family believe he ran away because he feared he would be re-admitted to a secure mental unit. They insist he was not a suicide risk. The inquest heard that a member of staff had shouted to the man: “Let go of him, the power is off. The trains have stopped.” His father Chris said: “Andrew must have heard that the power was cut off. The question is: why did he go into the tunnel?  Andrew was not a stupid person.”

Andrew’s 25-year-old sister Andrea said that the actions of TfL and the NHS had “dealt Andrew an injustice”. She said: “I see them as being both to blame.”

Another sister, Niki, 29, who is a counsellor, said: “I hope that other young vulnerable individuals who may be going through a completely normal difficulty within their life gain an awareness from this story that antidepressants carry with them adverse side effects which can considerably worsen how you feel.”

The inquest jury returned a narrative conclusion and said that Andrew’s intentions were “unclear at the time of his death.”

 

January 14 2014

BillDowlingAn inquest heard today that a retired police inspector from Devizes, Wiltshire, shot his ex-girlfriend with a shotgun before turning the gun on himself.

Bill Dowling (left), 59, had struggled with grief following the death of his mother in 2011 and had separated from Mrs Victoria Rose, a 58-year-old Ministry of Defence assistant and mother-of-two, in the following year.

Concerns had also been raised about Mr Dowling’s performance as one of the “highest paid” senior civil servants working in the local MoD office. On February 12 2013, three weeks before the shootings, Mr Dowling visited his GP and was signed off work with depression and insomnia. He was prescribed antidepressants, which he had stopped taking by the time he attended a follow-up appointment on February 22, when a sleeping tablet was prescribed.

VictoriaRoseHe revisited the GP’s surgery on February 25, accompanied by Mrs Rose (right), and enquired about being admitted to hospital, but the GP decided that it was not appropriate.

The day before the deaths, on March 1, Mr Dowling attended another appointment with the GP and was prescribed a different antidepressant.

That evening, Mr Dowling drafted three messages in his mobile phone – two to Mrs Rose and one to another friend. Each read: “Tablets driving me mad. Can’t go on. Please tell boys to forgive me. Tell police I’m in rear garden. Much love xxx

At around 8 the following morning, he called Mrs Rose at home and asked her to visit him as he was coughing up blood. When Mrs Rose entered the porch, Mr Dowling shot her twice in the head, and, immediately afterwards, shot himself.

Toxicology tests showed Mr Dowling had not consumed drugs or alcohol before the incident, though he had a small quantity of an antidepressant in his system.

Coroner David Ridley ruled that Mr Dowling took his own life, with Mrs Rose killed unlawfully.

 

January 10 2014

Joanne Bingley died in April 2010 when she stepped in front of a train near her Huddersfield home. Her daughter Emily was just 10 weeks old.

Joanne & Chris with Emily
Joanne & Chris with Emily

At the inquest in October 2011, Joanne’s husband Chris had said that 39-year-old Joanne, a nurse with 20 years experience, was struggling to cope following the birth of the couple’s longed-for first child. Joanne was prescribed Prozac and sleeping pills, from which she later withdrew. Joanne’s post-natal depression escalated, and she told medics she wanted to end her life.

Chris and Joanne both felt that she should have been put in hospital, but a doctor had advised that Joanne would be better off being cared for at home. At the inquest, Chris said: “It is my belief that, if I had been provided with the information necessary to make an informed decision, my wife could well have been given appropriate care and treatment which would have prevented her death.”

ChrisBingleyAfter Joanne’s death, Chris set up the The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation, which aims to help women and their families by raising awareness and providing information about postnatal depression. Today, 45-year-old accountant Chris (right) is a single father. He went bankrupt and lost his home paying out half a million pounds in his fight for answers into his wife’s death.

This week, more than three years after the tragedy, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust finally admitted that Joanne may not have taken her own life if she had been offered a mental health facility during the time after Emily was born.

 

January 8 2014

DavidRathbandThe inquest into the death of David Rathband (left) concluded today with a verdict of suicide. David was the police officer who was shot and blinded by Raoul Moat, who had already wounded his ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend on his release from prison. Mr Moat eventually shot himself in a stand-off with Police.

After the first day of the inquest, the Daily Mail report included a statement by David’s sister that, on the evening before David hanged himself, she had received a text from David’s wife in which she had written that: “she had just seen David and he was not eating and he had taken too much medication.” By the following morning, this sentence had been removed from the Daily Mail’s online report, and did not appear in the newspaper version.

RaoulMoatThe only other local or national newspaper to mention medication that I found was the Metro, which said that David’s wife “last saw her husband the evening before he died and found him looking ‘awful’ having hardly eaten and taken too much medication.”

Raoul Moat (right), incidentally, had had his prescription of antidepressants withdrawn before he was released from prison.

 

January 7 2014

Denmark’s health agency, Sundhedsstyrelsen, has decided to make it harder for doctors to prescribe antidepressants to 18 to 24-year-olds following the suicide of a young man.

DaniloTerridaIn 2011, Danilo Terrida (left), 20, a naval student, hanged himself eleven days after he was prescribed Sertraline following an eight-minute-long telephone conversation with a doctor. The doctor failed to arrange a follow-up appointment, and was found responsible for Danilo’s suicide by the National Agency for Patients’ Rights and Complaints.

From now on, young patients will have to face an assessment and an in-depth conversation with a doctor before antidepressants can be prescribed.

Along with the Danilo case, there have been other cases that we, as the oversight authority, are not satisfied with. That is why we are now tightening the rules for this vulnerable group,” said Sundhedsstyrelsen spokesperson Anne Mette Dons.

PeterGotzscheThe case has sparked a debate about the dangers of psychiatric drugs, and in the newspaper Politiken, Peter Gøtzsche (right), medical researcher and leader of the Nordic Cochrane Centre at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet, wrote that antidepressants have caused healthy people to commit suicide.

It is true that depression increases the risk of suicide, but antidepressants increase it even more, at least up until the age of 40,” he wrote.

He added that psychiatric medication often does more harm than good and that patients would often be better off without medication. “Doctors cannot cope with the paradox that drugs that can be useful for short-term treatment can be highly dangerous when used for years and even create the illnesses that they were supposed to prevent, or even bring on an even worse illness.”

 

January 6 2014

PeterBaneThe Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has paid an undisclosed amount to the family of Peter Bane (left) in an out-of-court settlement.

The inquest in 2011 heard that 47-year-old Mr Bane, a senior railway engineer from Happisburgh, Norfolk, originally sought assistance from his GP because he had suddenly developed very strong urges to take his life by walking in front of a train.  His GP assessed that he was at a “very high” risk of self-harm and arranged for the psychiatric services to undertake an urgent assessment at Mr Bane’s home. However, a home assessment did not take place and instead Mr Bane was telephoned by the psychiatric services.

Mr Bane repeated that he felt unsafe at home and that he wanted to take his life by walking in front of a train. He requested to be admitted to hospital but his requests were refused and he was advised that he only required a change in his medication. Mr Bane attended the follow-up appointment on 15 February 2010, and was given an increase in his medication, but no further action was taken in relation to a hospital admission.

Mr Bane went to work on the following morning but left shortly afterwards and, with a suicide note in his pocket, walked in front of a train.

 

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