Re: Suicide prevention in England. Scotland as an example; why Governments are getting it so wrong.

20 August 2019

Editorial by Beverley Thorpe

Researcher Collaborative Medication Consulting
British Medical Journal

Scotland as an example; why Governments are getting it so wrong.
Paradoxically speaking……. more drugs, more suicide.

A paradoxical reaction or paradoxical effect is an effect of medical treatment, usually a drug, opposite to the effect which would normally be expected. An example of a paradoxical reaction is suicidal ideation caused by antidepressants. It is now widely acknowledged, prescription drugs can put us at risk of dangerous adverse effects, most notably, antidepressants and some other medication can raise the risk of suicide.

At events run by Samaritans Scotland, NHS Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, people directly affected by or who engage with those affected by suicide were asked to ‘share their views on suicide prevention’. The events aimed to influence the development of the Scottish Government’s next Suicide Prevention Action Plan, published in Spring 2018. The findings of the consultations were presented to Scotland’s Mental Health Minister, Maureen Watt.

I personally attended the consultation in Inverness on January 18th, 2018. I respectfully made the point that any Suicide Prevention Strategy discussions must include discussions about the adverse effects of antidepressants and other prescription medication. The Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013-2016 included the statistics that 59% of the 5,119 people who died by suicide between 2009 and 2015 in Scotland had at least one mental health drug prescription dispensed within 12 months of death. 82% were prescribed an antidepressant alone or in combination with another drug. Why were alarm bells not ringing?

I was disheartened but not surprised to find, as with the Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027, the Suicide Prevention Report failed to mention our ever increasing dependence on the medication 59% of people who died had been prescribed.

SSRI antidepressants have different names throughout the world but the mechanism of action is the same. They are generally prescribed on the basis they cure a ‘chemical imbalance’. No chemical imbalances have ever been proven to exist. No tests exist to support this theory, and it is a societal belief based on pharmaceutical marketing.

Animal studies demonstrate when initially given Fluoxetine (Prozac), an SSRI Antidepressant , the brain shuts down its own production of serotonin, causing a paradoxical effect or opposite effect on the level of serotonin. The brain’s chemistry wants to remain balanced and any disruption from SSRIs or other medications throws the brain off balance. For this reason the Food and Drug Administration requires “Black box warnings” on all SSRIs, stating very clearly that they double suicide rates from two per 1,000 to four per 1,000 in children and adolescents.

“Instead of correcting biochemical imbalances, the drugs cause biochemical imbalances. Deterioration seen in many patients is not caused by an inherent disease process within the brain, rather a by toxic exposures to psychiatric medication. Every psychoactive medication disrupts the normal homeostatis of the brain, causing additional biochemical distortions within the brain as the organ attempts to overcome or compensate for the drug-induced disruption of normal function.” (Andrews, Kornstein, Halberstadt, Gardner, & Neale, 2011; Breggin, 1991,2008a; Breggin and Breggin, 2004; Science Daily, 2011a).

In short, the drugs ‘create’ a chemical imbalance rather than ‘cure’ one. It is at times of starting medication or increasing or decreasing doses the imbalance most often occurs.

Certain behaviors are known to be associated with these drugs, including anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness), hypomania, and mania. Any of these adverse effects can cause both suicide and violence.

SSRI Stories ( is a collection of over 6,000 “stories” in which prescription drugs are mentioned and the drugs may be linked to a variety of adverse outcomes including suicide and violence. There are over 1300 harrowing deaths reported in detail in the suicide section, all of which were linked to Prescription medication, in particular SSRIs. There are many untold “stories”; for years families have claimed that antidepressant medication drove their loved ones to commit suicide, but have been continually dismissed by medical companies and doctors who claimed a link was unproven. There are also landmark settlements by pharmaceutical companies to families who were brave enough to pursue their claims.

Maureen Watt said “every suicide is a tragedy with a far-reaching impact on family, friends and the community long after a person has died.” The story of 16 year old Scot, Britney Mazzoncini is added to the ever growing list of suicides caused by prescription medication. She went to her GP with depression and was prescribed a month’s supply of Propanolol, a Beta-blocker / anti-anxiety drug. She left the surgery with 84 x 40mg tablets and was advised to return in 28 days. 16 days later, she took an overdose and died at their family home in Glasgow. What we do know is Beta-blockers, particularly the more lipophilic, nonselective beta-blockers, like propranolol can cause major depressive episodes after initiation of therapy. Her mother had no knowledge her daughter was taking the medication. She lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament asking for a rethink of the way GPs treat mental health conditions in young people. She wants GPs to be unable to prescribe anti-depressants to under-18s without the knowledge of a parent or guardian.

Don’t we owe it to Britney and her mother and all the others who have lost loved ones to include discussions about the adverse and often paradoxical effects of antidepressants and other prescription medication if we are to effectively influence the development of any Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan?

Competing interests: No competing interests