News File: July-Dec 2014



December 4 2014

Yesterday, on the day after Ashli’s inquest (see below), a coroner in Manchester delivered a verdict of suicide on a 15-year-old schoolboy.

BradleyAdamsBradley Adams (left) was a talented musician. He had experienced bullying and teasing at a previous school, but had moved to another where he was “a lot happier,” and where the head-teacher described him as an “excellent student” and added: “He was very popular with other children and staff.”

In March of this year, Bradley was found hanged in his bedroom. He left a moving suicide note in a school work book addressed to his friends and family. In it he asked them to give his possessions to those less fortunate than him.

The inquest heard that Bradley had been suffering from depression and was receiving “specialist mental health treatment and support.” Whether this “treatment” included medication was not reported.

NickStanageCoroner Nick Stanage (right) said: “I find, with regret, that the evidence before the court does indicate beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to take his own life.”

Bradley was described by his mother as “the light of everyone’s life” who had been “receiving the correct support and help.”


December 3 2014

AshliCookIn September, 15-year-old Ashli Blake(left) took her life by jumping from a tower in the Hampshire countryside near to her home. Reporting on yesterday’s inquest, various newspapers mentioned that she “was reportedly being bullied at school” and that, in the hours before her death, she had a row with her boyfriend in which she threatened to kill herself.

A pathologist confirmed that “there was no alcohol or drugs” in her system.

Ashli’s mother Canasta told the inquest: “She would have grown up to be a lovely person.” Canasta mentioned that Ashli had suffered from some bullying problems with other girls at her school but that she had not expressed any wish not to attend school because of it. She added that Ashli was working hard at her studies and had told family members she wanted to become an art therapist or an accountant.

CharlotteHillsleyIn a statement, Dr Charlotte Hillsley (right), Ashli’s GP, said she had suffered from low moods and sleeping problems. She had previously been referred to the Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services  (CAMHS) but had been discharged. However, in July she had returned to the surgery and was referred again to the clinic and placed on its waiting list. However, the doctor did not appear to mention what treatment she had been provided for Ashli, nor whether she had prescribed any medication for her.

GrahameShortRecording a verdict of suicide, Coroner Grahame Short (left) said: “Ashli was a deeply troubled girl but I find that she chose to end her life.”

At the end of this unsatisfactory inquest, we did not discover whether Ashli took her life because she was troubled, bullied, or merely angry with her boyfriend.

Or, is it a more likely explanation that Ashli’s precious young life was yet another to be cut short by psychiatric medication? 


November 28 2014

BBCThe BBC reported today that seven mental health patients have killed themselves in England since 2012 after being told there were no hospital beds for them.

One of the seven was referred to as “an unnamed man from Sheffield”, but, of the six who were named in the article, 3 were already on my database as they were confirmed as having been prescribed antidepressants some time before their death.

Pauline Binch, 64 (Nottingham). Hanged

Stephanie Daniels, 32 (Manchester). Hanged

Mandy Peck, 39 (Essex). Jumped from multi-storey car park

I had included the other three names on separate lists entitled “Suffering from Depression”, as newspaper reports of their inquests did not specifically mention antidepressant medication.

Anthony Quigley, 53 (North London). Struck by tube train

Michael Knight, 20 (Norfolk). Hanged

Terence Mullin, 53 (Blackburn). Hanged

The article also mentioned Amanda Vickers, 47 (Cumbria), who hanged herself after being denied a bed in a crisis house, a facility used to treat patients outside hospitals.

In addition, Peter Holboll, 44 (London) fatally stabbed his mother, having been told the previous day that no beds were available. He was subsequently visited by specialist nurses who decided that he did not need to be admitted to hospital “as he had agreed to take his medication.”

CommunityCareThe investigation, carried out by Community Care and BBC news, discovered figures showing that more than 2100 mental health beds have been removed since 2011.

AndyMcNicollThe report’s author, Andy McNicoll (right), also revealed that the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt  and NHS England were alerted to danger of delays in admission in December 2013.

A statement from NHS England said that spending on mental health was increasing in real terms. It went on to add that the solution to improving care was not about “beds, or buildings” but “finding the right solution for each patient”.

The policy of handing out antidepressants without actually addressing individual needs is, clearly, not the right solution for any patient.


November 15 2014

OliverRuse3Oliver Ruse (left) ran the family butchery business that had been founded five generations ago in the village of Long Melford, Suffolk. He also looked after his four daughters after his marriage to wife Debbie (39) broke down.

According to reports, 37-year-old Oliver was left “heartbroken” after his wife Debbie left him and the children and moved abroad. He was then upset further when she came back and, on her return, requested access to their daughters and demanded a share of the family business.

DebbieRuseYesterday, it appears that Oliver went to the cottage that Debbie (right) was renting in the village, where he killed her with an axe. He then drove to the town of Bury St Edmunds, and jumped to his death from a multi-storey car park.

Oliver’s stepmother Sheelagh said: “Everyone’s devastated. Oliver was a very gentle man and bent over backwards to please Debbie. I don’t know what happened – a breakdown or something. I think he was still in love with her.”

A family friend said that Oliver had been on antidepressants since his wife’s return.


November 7 2014

CliveThomasIn 1973, Clive Thomas (left) became Welsh 1500m champion, and 2 years later he was selected for the British athletics team. He went on to coach aspiring athletes while teaching at Millfield, a prestigious private school that specialises in sport.

Some time ago, Clive was treated for prostate cancer. Earlier this year, he was told that his prostate cancer had resurfaced and that he would need to begin chemotherapy.

As an inquest heard yesterday, the 67-year-old then became increasingly paranoid that the antidepressants that he had been prescribed would cause him to harm himself or his loved ones.

Clive’s partner Susan Adams told the inquest that Clive had been talking about having “black thoughts” in the days before his death. One evening in September, after flying into a fit of paranoia and warning Susan to “protect herself” from him, he fled from her home in Basingstoke, Hampshire, and was discovered hours later on the railway tracks near the village of Oakley, about 8 kilometres away.

The inquest heard how Clive had probably jumped from a footbridge in the middle of the night and lay undiscovered until he was struck by an early morning freight train. He was still alive when emergency services arrived on the scene but had suffered devastating head injuries and died on the tracks as paramedics tried to resuscitate him.

AndrewBradleyCoroner Andrew Bradley (right) said: “He clearly steals away from home in a very agitated state, there are a variety of things he could have done but what he does is go down to the railway line and jumps from the bridge. It’s not immediately outside his house, it’s a journey he had to make … he had a plan.”

A jury ruled that Clive killed himself “whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed.”


October 25 2014

GlosCorCourt1This week, the inquest of 39-year-old Victoria Phelps was held at Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court. Victoria, a mother to two children, took her life in August 2012 by hanging herself in her garage. She had taken antidepressants for years, but, in April 2012, she became more anxious and depressed after a relationship breakdown.

ProzacFluIn the month before she died, after an overdose, Victoria was referred to psychiatrist Prakash Muthu for a crisis assessment. Dr Muthu told the inquest that he “assessed her as being of low risk of suicide,” and recommended a change of medication toFluoxetine. However, he denied that there was an increased risk of suicide associated with Fluoxetine, even though the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) carries a suicide warning.

Dr Muthu also informed the inquest that he had told Victoria that, as part of her risk management, she should contact the Samaritans. Perhaps this was a somewhat bizarre interpretation of the advice in the British National Formularythat: “Patients should be monitored for suicidal behaviour, self-harm or hostility, particularly at the beginning of treatment or if the dose is changed.”

Understandably, Victoria’s family were not happy with the treatment that Victoria had received. Her mother had asked for her to be sectioned, while her brother Brett said: “My sister only started having suicide thoughts and making attempts when she was prescribed Fluoxetine. I’ve been doing some research into the drug and reckon that it was a death sentence for my sister.”

Coroner Katy Skerrett delivered a narrative conclusion, saying that “She made a few suicidal attempts in the weeks preceding her death. However it is unclear whether she had formed a clear intention to die.”


October 21 2014

This year’s book awards by the British Medical Association (BMA) have just been announced, and Peter Gøtzsche’s latestbookDeadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare’ has been awarded first prizein the “Basis of Medicine” Category.

Peter (left) is Director of the NordicCochrane Centre in Copenhagen, and is also a member of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP).

The BMA reviewer commented that: “I would say that this book should be compulsory reading for medical students and junior doctors to make them aware of these issues…

DeadlyMedicinesThe review continued: “The author’s long experience in the field leads to a clear and authoritative view on the failings of the pharmaceutical industry. However he is clear that doctors, their organisations, journals and policy makers also have a role in these failings. I was particularly interested in the entanglement between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. The use of clear language – fraud, corruption, and criminality – helps show what we would call this behaviour in any other sphere of life. It also refocuses our minds on the impact this behaviour has on patients – medication being the third largest cause of death…

“Prior to reading this I felt I had a good understanding of many of the issues – however this book highlighted many issues which I was not aware of. Some of the industry documents which have been leaked or revealed in court cases are particularly eye-opening…

“I would strongly recommend this book to others both healthcare professionals and those in the general public. The central issue is that we should be focused on patients – whose safety must come before profits.


September 23 2014

Yesterday, an inquest was held into the death of a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Cambridgeshire.

For two years, the girl had been taking Fluoxetine (Prozac), prescribed by her GP for depression.

A report from her GP stated that, in the month before her death, the girl said that she heard voices in her head and that she felt “depressed the whole time.” Shortly before her death, she asked her doctor if she could change her Fluoxetine, as she felt it was making her worse. The medication was changed but there was no further appointment with the GP before the day in May this year, when she took a fatal overdose of the unnamed antidepressants.

Coroner David MorrisCoroner David Morris (left) recorded a verdict of suicide, saying that the girl “took her own life while suffering from a chronic depressive illness.”

The coroner, however, did not mention the inherent dangers involved in prescribing SSRI antidepressants to children, nor did he mention the fact that those taking SSRIs are particularly at risk when changes are made to the prescription.


September 13 2014

JacinthaSaldanhaIn December 2012, Prince William’s wife Kate was in hospital in London being treated for acute morning sickness. While she was there, the hospital received a prank call from two Australian radio presenters pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles. The call was taken by 46-year-old Jacintha Saldanha (right), who revealed confidential medical information about the pregnant Duchess before transferring the call to the duty nurse. To the embarrassment of the hospital, the call was broadcast in Australia and made headlines around the world.

Three days later, Jacintha hanged herself in the nurses’ living quarters. Following the tragedy, it was widely reported that Jacintha had been prescribed antidepressants, and had made two suicide attempts while in India the previous year.

The Bristol Post, for example, reported that Jacintha “attempted to commit suicide last December with an overdose of pills during a family visit to India, according to Indian newspaper reports. She survived after being rushed to hospital but tried to commit suicide again just nine days later by apparently jumping from a building. Ms Saldanha spent several days in intensive care before receiving psychiatric treatment and being prescribed a course of powerful antidepressants for nine months.”

FionaWilcoxThis week, the inquest into Jacintha’s death finally took place. One of the first witnesses was Jacintha’s husband, who, when asked a question by coroner Fiona Wilcox (left), confirmed that, to his knowledge, his wife had not suffered any psychiatric illnesses or depression in the past, nor had she made any attempt to harm herself.

No further mention was made of Jacintha’s medical history, and, the following day, Dr Wilcox concluded the inquest by delivering a verdict of suicide, saying: “The hoax call was clearly pressing on her mind.”

Were the original reports completely wide of the mark, or is this just the latest manipulation of an inquest in order to expunge the link between antidepressants and suicide? The answers remain hidden in Jacintha’s medical record and in the pathologist’s toxicology report, both of which would have been available to Dr Wilcox. Yet no reference by the coroner to either of these documents has been reported in the media.


September 10 2014

CaroleMillman69-year-old grandmother Carole Millman (right) lived in Egglescliffe, Teesside, with her husband and 97-year-old father.

Carole was described by coroner Malcolm Donnelly as a “very fit lady” who had completed the 20km Great North Run last year. However, the coroner continued by saying that: “What consumed her was the responsibility of her father.”

In May of this year, Carole visited her GP with her husband, and was prescribed medication. Two days later, she placed some bricks in a rucksack and drowned herself in the River Tees. Mr Donnelly recorded a verdict of suicide, adding that it was “so desperately sad.”

The local newspaper reported the inquest under the headline: “Grandmother killed herself after finding burden of looking after elderly dad too much”.

JonathanMcNallyJonathan McNally (left) was a super-fit 27-year-old personal trainer with an engaging personality, who had recently landed a prominent role in a forthcoming reality TV show set in his home town of Birmingham. In June of this year, he hanged himself in a friend’s garden.

Coroner Louise Hunt recorded a verdict of suicide, but his family said they did not believe he had intended to take his own life and called for improvements in mental health services.

According to his sister Gina, Jonathan “had issues with his height from a young age. All through school he was tiny … but he eventually shot up and was around 5ft 7ins (1.70m). Other things added to the way he felt. All this should have been picked up from when he was a child, but it never was.”

Gina said that her brother had been given tablets for his depression but more could have been done. “Jon had gone to the doctors but all he got were tablets,” she explained.

He heard voices in his head. He wasn’t offered any counselling and I don’t think enough was done to help him or take care of his mental health issues. There was a lack of support.”

The local newspaper reported the inquest under the headline: “Budding TV star killed himself because he was ‘too short’“.


August 27 2014

JamieDouglasHome1The inquest of former racehorse trainer Jamie Douglas-Home (right), who held the title Baron Dacre, was reported in this morning’s Daily Mail. 61-year-old Mr Douglas-Home, who was the nephew of former Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home, shot himself dead in his Oxfordshire home in May of this year.

An inquest yesterday heard that Mr Douglas-Home saw his GP in March. At the time he was attempting to write a book on horse racing, but reported feeling tired and suffering from a lack of drive. In April, he consulted another GP, and was prescribed sleeping tablets and the antidepressant Escitalopram.

ChrisMullerPollardOn May 7th, Mr Douglas-Home attended a private hospital in London, where he saw Dr Christopher Muller-Pollard (left), a consultant psychiatrist. Dr Muller-Pollard told the inquest: “He told me he was feeling suicidal two days prior to his appointment with me but was no longer feeling suicidal. I explained that some antidepressant medicine could rarely cause an increase in suicidality, but that was more in young people and women.”

Dr Muller-Pollard explained that he offered Mr Douglas-Home a bed at the hospital as it would mean he could “take a break” for a while, but he declined. “Jamie reassured me he didn’t need any supervision as he was not currently suicidal. He would prefer to go home,” he said.

Mr Douglas-Home stayed overnight in London with his daughter, and returned home the following morning. That evening, he was discovered by his sister Sarah Dent, who had come to stay with him.

Mrs Dent told the inquest that her brother had mentioned that he had felt worse after starting his medication and questioned the logic of leaving the decision of whether to admit her brother with him, due to his indecisiveness and mental state.

Before recording a verdict of suicide, Coroner Peter Clark told Mrs Dent: “His apparent preference was to return home. It is clear from the statements that there is this issue that you feel slightly worse before you are meant to feel better, which is a very difficult judgement call to make.


August 18 2014

SeemberjeetTwo days ago, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus published a report on the inquest into the tragic death of 35-year-old devoted wife and mother Seemberjeet Kaur, who drowned herself in the River Aire in Leeds. The report had a photo (right) of Seemberjeet and, including the headline, was 401 words long. The report told how Seemberjeet became anxious about the health of her young daughter, then went on to say: “Over time she grew increasingly more anxious, also worrying about other family’s health, and was put on anti-depressants.”

This morning, the online edition of the Daily Mirror published a similar report which included the same photo of Seemberjeet, and, at 610 words long, was about 50% longer than that in the local newspaper. The report included these words from the coroner: “She was placed on anti-depressants for anxiety. She started to think that she was unwell and other family members were unwell. She told her husband she wanted her death to be quick. She clearly appears to have had mental health issues.”

Seemberjeet-riverThe report in this morning’s online edition of the Daily Mail was the most detailed of the three. As well as the same photo of Seemberjeet, the report also had a photo (left) of the river in Leeds. At 842 words long, it was more than twice the length of that in the local newspaper. However, the report contains no mention at all of antidepressants, although it refers to a “muscle-relaxant” not mentioned in either of the other reports.

In the past few months, the Daily Mail has published two articles about research that showed antidepressants in a positive light. The first concerned pregnancy and breast-feeding, while the second purported to show how suicides had risen since the FDA warned about their use. Both of the articles were published uncritically, as news, but the fact that both research projects have since been thoroughly discredited has never been mentioned in the newspaper.

One has to wonder whether the Daily Mail has recently formulated some sort of policy that antidepressants should be mentioned only in a positive light.


August 15 2014

Martin StrainAnyone who heard Adrian Strain speak on BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning, the day after the funeral of his son, could not help but be impressed by his eloquence, dignity and sincerity. When 34-year-old Martin (right) took sickness leave from work in April, he went to his GP. He was given a repeat prescription for antidepressants, but told that he would have to wait for at least three months before receiving any talking therapy. Earlier this month, Martin took his life.

On the programme, Adrian asked for guidelines that ensured that “within four weeks of a young man, aged 20-40, reporting sick for work, reporting to a GP with stress, that there is an immediate referral for a psychiatric assessment.”

SimonWesselyThat interview was followed, in contrast, by a totally cynical performance from Simon Wessely (left), president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who completely ignored the interviewer’s pertinent differentiation between antidepressants and talking therapy. Instead, he re-iterated his recent assertion that “Less than a third of people with common mental health problems get any treatment at all.”

As an online author asks of Dr Wessely: “Where does this percentage come from? What study was done in order to generate this fantasy? It seems to me to be quite an arbitrary number because there could be no logical, reasonable or scientific way that you could possibly arrive at that figure.”

The author also asks: “Why do you mention ‘treatments’ but fail to illustrate that these treatments are almost always psychiatric drugs with horrendous side effects?”

I shouldn’t think the author known as Truthman expects an answer any more than I do. But at least he’s managed to come up with an appropriate illustration:



July 29 2014

Yesterday the inquest of 51-year-old Liz Fleming took place. Liz was a “dedicated and respected” special needs teacher who lived and worked in Cornwall. Last year, she became anxious about her physical health and the possibility of a forthcoming operation.

AndrewMayOn October 21st, Liz consulted her GP, Dr Andrew May (left), who made the fateful decision to prescribe the SSRI antidepressant Sertraline for her anxiety. Just two days later, Liz suffered what Dr May described as “a dramatic adverse reaction” to the medication, which left her in a catatonic state. Dr May said he had never seen such an extreme reaction before.

Liz’s sister Alison said: “I think mentally when it was happening she thought she was dying inside … She expressed suicidal thoughts most days. She wanted to die but she also expressed that she wanted to live as well.”

Following the adverse reaction, Liz was given Diazepam and an urgent referral to the crisis home treatment team. She was also put into the “care” of consultant psychiatrist Rick Bowers. On December 18th Liz was prescribed yet another drug, Pregabalin. Like Sertraline and Diazepam, Pregabalin (aka Lyrica) has also been linked with suicidal ideation.

On January 2nd of this year, Liz was found hanged at her home.

SertralineIn his summation, coroner Barrie van den Berg said: “It’s a tragedy. It sounds like an adverse reaction to the Sertraline tipped her situation to a point that she could not deal with.” Nevertheless, he decided that Liz’s actions were “deliberate”, and delivered a verdict of suicide. It is to be hoped that the coroner at least sent a Yellow Card to the Pharma-funded MHRA.

After the inquest, Liz’s sister Alison and her brother Malcolm praised everyone involved in her care.


July 26 2014

SkeffFuneralYesterday, the funeral of two brothers took place in County Sligo, Ireland. As well as being brothers, 20-year-old Shane Skeffington and his 9-year-old brother Brandon were also great friends who were often to be seen playing football together. Last Sunday, in an act that was completely out-of-character, Shane fatally stabbed Brandon in the house with a kitchen knife, then hanged himself in a garden shed. Yesterday, the two brothers were buried side by side.

Some time before the tragic event, Shane had returned from a spell in Sligo General Hospital, where he had been receiving “psychiatric treatment”, and was reported to have emerged “a changed man”.

ShaneClancy1Many Irish newspapers have drawn comparisons between Sunday’s tragedy and the terrible events of almost 5 years ago in Bray, when 22-year-old Shane Clancy (right) used a kitchen knife to stab a male acquaintance before going on to stab himself. The inquest jury at the time decided that Shane’s out-of-character actions were due to an adverse reaction to the antidepressant Citalopram that had been prescribed to him.

LeonieFennellOn Tuesday, the Irish Mirror interviewed Shane Clancy’s mother Leonie (left), who said about Sunday’s tragedy in Sligo: “It was out of the blue – the neighbours couldn’t believe it. He had only just been released from a psychiatric hospital. The only thing they can do is give pills – they are mind-altering drugs. It needs to be investigated and questions need to be asked of the HSE.”

PatriciaCasey1Immediately following Shane Clancy’s inquest in 2010, a group of Irish psychiatrists led by Patricia Casey (right) made bizarre and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to exonerate Citalopram. Professor Casey also appeared prominently in a rather tacky TV documentary about the events in Bray that was broadcast earlier this year.

BrandonShaneSkeffingtonWhether Shane Skeffington was prescribed psychiatric medication or not should emerge in due course. However, whatever the outcome, it is evident that Brandon (left), Shane (inset) and their distraught family have been completely failed by the flawed practice of psychiatry.



News and Comment

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