Black Boxes and Suicide Rates
Did an FDA-mandated “black box” warning on antidepressants result in an increased uptick of suicides, especially in teens? That’s the question of the year, as proposed by Robert Gibbons, who authored a study published in September that said, yes, indeed it did. Other researchers (and us) said, no, it didn’t. Alternative hypotheses weren’t considered by Gibbons as potential explanations for the data. And since his study was published, 2005 data became available showing that deaths by suicide may have decreased. Year to year changes are rarely significant enough to suggest policy changes, however, as trending for such changes need to take at least 3 or more years into consideration in order to draw robust conclusions.
- The Story Behind the Increase in Teen Suicide Rates
- Experts Question Study on Youth Suicide Rates
- Your Suicide Rates Study Deemed Dubious
- Research Attempts to Answer Critics
Prescribing Atypical Antipsychotics for Everything
Even though atypical antipsychotics are not approved by the FDA for treatment of attention deficit disorder, that hasn’t stopped psychiatrists and other doctors from prescribing them wholesale for the disorder. And not just a handful here and there. No, atypical antipsychotics were prescribed to children ages 1-12 in Florida for a completely off-label use – the treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADHD) – in 50% of the prescriptions written under the Florida Medicaid program. And what about antipsychotic prescriptions for dementia? The Wall Street Journal reported on its investigation into such prescriptions and found what it called “abuse” of such prescribing. While I’m fairly certain overmedication occurs in most nursing homes, I doubt this is a problem unique to a particular class of medications.
- Very Young Children Being Prescribed Antipsychotics
- Antipsychotic Abuse in Nursing Homes?
- Prescription Abuse Seen In U.S. Nursing Homes
- Doctors Should Stop Abusing Dementia Patients
Mental Illness, Violence and Prisons
2007 was the year for many stories focusing on the plight and horrible conditions that prison inmates who suffer from a mental illness face. 60 Minutes started the year off in its February broadcast of the case of Timothy Souders, a person with bipolar disorder who unfortunately ended up in prison for shoplifting, and died. It’s a disturbing story.
The Boston Globe conducted an in-depth report on mental illness in Massachusetts’ prisons, and the findings should be surprising to no one… If you’re mentally ill and imprisoned, your very life becomes at risk.
Mary Beth Pfeiffer also published a must-read book on this topic, Crazy in America, which looks to be worth a read.
Other major news organizations also focused on this growing issue of concern:
Virginia Tech became the sad center of a tragedy and unwanted attention when one of its students decided to gun down and murder 32 others and himself at the university’s campus in April. Cho, the murderer, had previously sought treatment for mental health issues in 2005, two years prior to the murders.
Omaha followed in December, when a 19-year-old troubled teen opened fire in a crowded shopping mall and killed eight people, and then himself. He apparently was on antidepressant psychiatric drugs at the time of the murders, and according to a report on Good Morning America, since he was 5 years old.