Family double death horror

I’ve just seen this terrible story in the Daily Mirror:

A father is believed to have returned home yesterday evening to find his two young children murdered and his wife with her wrists slit.

Emergency services were called to the home in Wandsworth, south west London, but the 10-week-old baby boy and one-year-old girl were pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem is due to take place today although reports have suggested the children showed no signs of injury and may have been smothered.

A woman in her mid-30s, believed to be the man’s wife, was arrested over the deaths and is being questioned by detectives today.

She is understood to have self-harmed but did not require hospital treatment.

Police are believed to be investigating the possibility that the mother was suffering from post-natal depression.

In cases like this, I believe one of the first things to establish is what (if anything) the woman was being treated with for her depression…

The authorities simply must start to take notice about this issue and the public deserves to know if there is a connection between acts of extreme violence and drug treatment – I believe that antidepressants can cause extreme violence.

All too often in the past, it seemed that the only other people in the world who would ever begin to entertain the possibility were people such as Michael Moore and Dr Peter Breggin in the USA – and in England David Healy, Andrew Herxheimer and David B. Menkes, who co-authored a paper on the subject in 2006 – Antidepressants and Violence: Problems at the Interface of Medicine and Law.

If you want more information, then you can read follow up with these links (or just type ‘Violence’ in the search box on the left of your screen:

What made Raoul Moat do it

Nebraska shooting – antidepressant connection yet again?

Lost in translation – were Anti-Depressants Involved In Finland School Massacre?

A brief history of school shootings

The Finland Massacre

SSRI stories

Antidepressants and violence

As I’ve said, there has to be a proper investigation into this issue – and I believe that the drug companies (such as Glaxo) know the problem exists, but have done nothing about it as it would have affected their profits.

 

The story of SSRI stories

This interview is taken from David Healy’s new blog and is all about SSRI stories – an incredible resource, built over many years by Rosie Meysenburg…

The body of evidence that is presented would lead any sane person to think there’s something wrong here and there has to be urgent research undertaken into the unwanted effects of antidepressants – but for some reason the regulators (such as the FDA & the MHRA) and the drug industry seem happy to bury their respective heads in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong.

Rosie Meysenburg’s story

For anyone interested in the effects of drugs, the website SSRI stories has been an inspiration. Rosie Meysenburg, its creator, was recently diagnosed with cancer and is terminally ill. The story of how she came to create SSRI stories shows what people can do to hold the powers that be to account.

—David Healy


DH:          How did you get started with SSRI stories ?

RM:          I had spent ages trying to quit smoking. Eventually, in 1992, my doctor persuaded me to try Prozac. I took it for eight weeks during which time my behavior got stranger and stranger and I ended up in hospital. I had no idea what caused the problem until my husband, Gene, suggested it might be the Prozac. So I called the Mental Health Association here in Dallas and asked, “Do you know anyone else who has had a reaction to Prozac? Is there somebody I could talk to?” She said, “Oh, we have a number here for the Prozac Survivors Support Groups.” So she gave me their number and I called them. They talked to me for a long time on the phone and sent me a ton of literature. Well I couldn’t believe it — there were testimonies from Dr. Teicher and others.

I had a manic reaction to Prozac taken for smoking cessation.

I got my medical records and they showed the doctors thought I had a manic reaction to Prozac although I don’t think it was manic; I think it was more nutty. I was angry about the fact that they knew it was the drug but hadn’t told me but there wasn’t too much I could do then — this was 1993. After that I wrote a letter to the FDA which they used in Motus vs. Pfizer — a letter that asked if they could put the same warning on their package insert as Germany had.

Then the Internet started in 1997 and I sat down and I went through the phone book and I called practically every physician in the city in which I lived. I’m a determined person. I asked them if I could find anything about Prozac on the Internet that would show that it could cause harm would they be interested? About 22 of them said yes they would be. I went into Alta Vista — the search engine before Google — I typed in Prozac. There wasn’t too much else you could type in except Zoloft and Paxil. And sometimes I’d put “plus suicides” or “plus murder” whatever and I came up with all kinds of things. This is how I started my message board — it was to these people and some of them were very interested, which kept me going.

Then Mark Miller who lost his 13-year-old son to a Zoloft-induced suicide became involved. He put up a website for Ann Tracey — I didn’t really know who she was. I found her on the Internet and so I sent her some emails and she wrote back. She said, “The Zoloft suicides? Can you find a phone number for these people, Rosie?” So I had a domain where you can find phone numbers and I found them and she called them and told them what had happened to their children. We had a whole list of phone numbers. We did that until about 2004.

Ann started pursuing another line of business although she still tried to find time to help on the SSRI cause. But then the FDA announced online — we watched the FDA announcements like a hawk — a meeting concerning antidepressants/suicide and children. We had about 25 names of parents of children who had committed suicide.

The FDA was astounded.

I think the FDA was astounded. They started out with the five minutes they were going to give to each parent to present their case. Then they went to three minutes and finally two minutes. I mean the FDA has these meeting every day and two or three people show up for issues like how many nuts should we put in the cookies? If you’re allergic to peanuts, what should the warning be? I think by law they are required to put an FDA meeting notice in one newspaper and they happened to put it in the Arlington, Virginia, newspaper because my husband Gene talked to a man whose son had committed suicide who saw the FDA announcement in the newspaper and then pretty well everybody came from either finding out about it by themselves or from contact through Ann Tracey, Mark Miller, or myself.

So we went to the 2004 meeting and the FDA placed a black box warning regarding suicidality and children under the age of 18, and then in 2006 that same black box warning for the 24-year-olds and under. I looked at my computer in my saved box and I had 1,000 messages; probably 300 were suicides and another 250-300 were murders, and then there were assaults and all kinds of different things.

DH:          When was this?

RM:          This was May 2006. I had over 1,000 media articles regarding antidepressants and murder, murder-suicides, suicides, assaults, school shootings, road rage, air rage, etc. My husband Gene set up the initial database for me.

“Thank you. I understand now what happened.”

I spent probably 20-25 hours a week doing that and the rest of time I spent with family and friends. I posted every post that’s up there. Can you believe it — 4892! Curious the way I feel about SSRI Stories. On the contact page for SSRI Stories everybody thanked me. I said to Gene that there will be a lot of people just saying, “Oh you’ve got to be kidding me; this cant be true.” Instead I’ve received these emails from the contact page of SSRI Stories with people saying “Thank you. I understand now what happened to my brother or my sister.”

When I first started my message forum I got a threatening letter from somebody when I had my own name up there, although I still kept up with my message board. Now that I’m dying I guess I’m less worried about them beating up on me over Prozac you know. I used to be worried about all these shooters out there but now I don’t care who knows my name.

Now that I’m dying I guess I’m less worried about them beating up on me over Prozac.

I am pretty sure FDA have ignored SSRI Stories. But when I look at the stats, Homeland Security goes in there quite a bit and looks at some of the cases. A lot of people are coming in from the military. The big thing I’ve had is people making comments on sections because my stat counter gives the web address. For instance one comment said, “My friend John Smith didn’t know why we were having all these school shootings and he went into SSRIs Stories and now he knows why.” I think it’s helped raise awareness, and I see a lot of people making comments because they come up in the stat counter with the URL or their website and I can click on their website and they’ll say things like, “Have you seen SSRI stories? It’s unbelievable but I think it’s true.” Stuff like that.

So I don’t know how many people have actually looked at SSRI Stories. As far as the index goes we’ve had maybe 300,000 or 400,000 people look at it, which isn’t a lot but which is still quite a bit. On the individual stories we’ve had close to 1 million people looking at them. It seems like in the individual stories approximately one out of every four people will go from the individual story into the index or cover page.

more people are being injured out there by this than we realize

But I can’t really say what kind of impact SSRI Stories has had. What I feel is that more people are being injured out there by this than we realize. Someone I know told me he has a neighbor on one side just died on Paxil and Zoloft, while on the other his neighbor just died on Celexa. Before that neighbor died she said she thought the police were taping her and she had begun to drink heavily and to act crazily.

DH:          Did your friend not know your work and warn his neighbors?

RM:          Well he only found out afterward. He could see the personality of one of his neighbor’s change but he didn’t know for sure and he felt he couldn’t go into it in-depth because this was his neighbor and he was embarrassed. Beside even when I was on Prozac I failed to spot the connection.

One day I went up to the bank and there was a lady there. She began talking about Prozac to me and she said that when she was on Prozac she killed her dog and then, right there at the bank counter, she started crying. I said “Why did you kill your dog?” and she said that he’d become incontinent and all of a sudden on Prozac she got aggravated with that so she took him to the vet and had him put to sleep. And then she started crying. She said her dog was her best friend. And I said to her, “ What was it about the Prozac that made you do this?” And she said it made her more aggressive. It makes you more unfeeling and more aggressive. Of course, she only had her dog put to sleep. I’m not saying she committed a major crime. Her pet was incontinent. He was probably old and would have died soon anyway but the point is that this is happening to a lot of people.

He burned down 10 churches and…will spend the rest of his life in jail.

About two or three months ago there was a case in a town near Dallas where a 20-year-old man, who was taking Champix and Prozac at the same time, went around in the middle of the night and burned down 10 churches.  No one of course had been killed because the churches were empty but the jury gave him life in prison. This article on SSRI stories talks about Prozac and Champix and it does say the perpetrator blamed the Champix because he didn’t know if he’d actually done it or if he’d dreamed it. But you see the Prozac can cause you to kind of go into a manic rage also and out of this you get a pyromania, or a kleptomania or nymphomania, and then on the Champix he was kind of like in a dream state. Anyway he’s 20 years old and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

DH:          Why did the issue of people becoming violent get your attention?

RM:          Well because you know in United States it’s always been a tradition not to print suicides. The only way you can tell is if they have a little clue in the obituary or if it says “he died suddenly.” Whereas, the UK and other countries do print suicides. They’ll say “committed suicide.” That’s why I have so many cases from people in Australia and Canada of suicides but very few from the US. However if it’s a controversial suicide or suicide of a famous person, people will want to know what happened to them, and then they’ll print it because everyone will say “Oh my gosh, this famous actor died. How did he die?” But I’m just talking about ordinary people who aren’t high profile. Also the big problem in the US is the drug advertising and of course the media is dying. Some of the newspapers have gone out of business — the only thing that keeps them alive is the drug ads.

The US has lost Freedom of the Press in an unusual way.

The U.S. has lost Freedom of the Press in an unusual way. The newspapers and TV cannot mention that the perpetrator was on an SSRI because the media is afraid the pharmaceutical companies will pull their ads.

DH:          Why do you think people are so reluctant to think that the drugs may be causing a problem?

RM:          I think it’s because they don’t ever stop to think that it might be the medication. I mean in the sense that I was on Prozac for nine weeks while I was losing my mind but I never once thought of the Prozac. My husband, Gene, was the one who finally figured out what was happening to me.

Why are we so slow to finger the drug?

DH:          Why are we so slow to finger the drug?

RM:          Because we’ve never really had a prescription drug before that’s caused so much violence and murder and mayhem. We’ve had the antibiotics for years and, of course, the illegal drugs. They were mostly made illegal because they were addictive, but we often think they cause psychosis, especially cocaine and methamphetamines. Pretty potent. However none of the school shooters were on those illegal drugs. That’s something.

DH:          Why, given so many school shootings being linked to these drugs, do you think the coin hasn’t dropped? What is it about the United States that makes people so reluctant to think the drugs could be responsible?

RM:          They say that in United States anybody who wants to can have a gun. So they blame the guns. And we did have one school shooting where the person was not on an SSRI in Kentucky and reporters write about this case all the time but neglect to mention the other school shooting. Strange. In Columbine, that second kid Dylan Klebold’s records were sealed, so nobody knows his toxicology. But you know there have even been 3 or 4 girls that did these shootings. And not all of the 65 school deaths were shootings — some were stabbings. And nobody seems to catch on. I don’t want to say nobody because while I go to my other stat counter, Go-stats, I’m amazed at the number of people that have typed in the words “antidepressant plus school shootings,” but there’s nobody in power seeing this.

Bill O’Reilly says there is an epidemic of women school teachers molesting their male students.

Bill O’Reilly, a famous TV talk show host, says there is an epidemic of women school teachers molesting their male students. He says that his program receives at least one report a week. SSRI Stories has 16 media articles of women school teachers who molested their male students while on medications for depression. One case, in Canada, was even a “won” case in the sense that the jury decided the SNRI Effexor had caused this type of weird nymphomaniac behavior.

We have won 29 legal cases so far, that we know about. If you go into SSRIS stories cover page and click on won cases you can see them all there. About 8 were homicides and 12 were murder attempts. One was an air rage case in a diplomat from England. There was a very early Zoloft case and a murder that was won 1994 that I found in the archives. Nobody had heard about it. It happened in South Carolina. So that means at least 29 judges or juries have decided to acquit on the grounds that the antidepressant caused the criminal behavior.

The other thing that gets me about these SSRIs is, not only do people become violent, they become extremely violent especially the women. They become so terribly violent they will stab somebody 200 times. There was the case in England of the man who stabbed his wife 200 times and then walked next door and stabbed his neighbor’s furniture another 200 times. So this is what’s kind of scary about it. We have about six people on death row here in United States, I think four of them are women who killed their children while they were on Prozac or Zoloft or something. One was a physician’s wife out in California and she killed her three children and then tried to kill herself and didn’t die and now she’s on death row.

DH:          Do you think there’s anyway for us to raise the profile of these cases and create a resource for people to get help?

RM:          That’s another bothersome issue — nobody’s put up a list of attorneys or physicians or anything. I did ask one or two people to help me post but nobody wanted to — they’re all so busy. Everyone’s so busy and it takes a lot of time. I can’t do the kind of work it would take to set up a list of physicians or attorneys but in future time somebody might be able to set that up.

the more I got into it the more sorry I felt for the perpetrators

When I first got caught up in the SSRI debacle I felt so sorry for the victims — people that were murdered or committed suicide. But the more I got into it the more sorry I felt for the perpetrators. So many of them were so young. Ben Garris was a young boy at the age of 15 who took Zoloft and it made him suicidal so they placed him in a prestigious hospital, Shepherd Pratt, and switched him to Prozac. He told them that he felt violent and they wrote in the hospital notes that he felt violent but they said he was being manipulative. He told me in his letter that he also told them to protect the other patients because he felt so violent. But they didn’t write that in the notes. Anyway he ended up killing a nurse who was on duty there. He got life in prison without the possibility of parole. So he was 16 when he went to prison and he’ll be there until he dies.

And there was a 13-year-old girl in Iowa who killed her great aunt. Stabbed her to death. She was on Prozac. She was given life in prison and the reason I knew it was that my sister sent me the article from the Des Moines Register that said she was on Prozac and that she was the youngest person to be sentenced to life in prison in Iowa. These are just some of the cases of the children.

DH:          Have you had any help from any group or anyone?

RM:          When I first started thinking about setting up SSRI Stories on the Internet, I sent a prototype of the way SSRI Stories would look to Sara Bostock who had lost her beautiful talented daughter to a Paxil-induced suicide. Sara believed that the prototype needed to have a “movable database,” and she hired a computer person to fix the prototype. She also paid for the server for over five years and helped me by posting 200 of the stories that I had saved in my computer. She even invented the name “SSRI Stories.” She believed in SSRI Stories and this gave me the energy I needed to carry out the work on the website. So SSRI Stories owes a lot to her and also to Ann Tracy for her early work.

But, no, other than these two people and my husband being my technician, nobody has come forward to help. There are other people doing a lot of work on psychotropic drugs but they are worn out themselves keeping different sites going. One person did write to me offering to help but I don’t know anyone who can keep up with SSRI stories because of changes in Google.

I don’t know anyone who can keep up with SSRI stories because of changes in Google

For years I went into Google and it said up above images, “Google News,” etc. I would click on Google News Advanced Search. Then when I clicked on Google News I would type in the word “antidepressant” and for that day it would say, for example, March 1, 2010, two hours ago something about an antidepressant that maybe killed somebody. I would quickly scan that to see if it was one of our cases. Then that would say four hours ago, six hours ago, and I could do that day till I was done with that day. I would type in “antidepressant” and “antidepressants,” and “anti-depressant” and “anti-depressants,” and I could get it all for that day. Then I’d type in “medication plus depression,” then I’d type in “medication plus depressed,” and “medication,” and so on. And I’d type in Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa — there were nine of them I typed in — and they would come up one hour ago, three hours ago from all over the world. That was what was amazing.

Now when you go to Google news and type in the word “antidepressant” it will come up first of all with Wikipedia. Then it will say four days ago, then two days ago, then six hours ago — it’s 18 times as much work. With just one person trying to do it and then getting sick, it’s got to be too much. Before I was sick, when they changed that, I went ahead and set up a Google alert. Do you know what Google alerts are? I would type in “antidepressant plus murder” and I would type in my email address and have them send me a Google alert for “antidepressant + murder.” That’s an email that they sent to me personally. I was able to work off that for about eight months. I would probably get about 75 of those a day, most of them didn’t have anything to do with antidepressants plus murder. They’d say someone was murdered back in 1910 or something but too bad they didn’t have antidepressants then.

I would have to go through a lot of those that said nothing but then all of a sudden I would come across one that did — that’s how I came across the case of the schoolteacher who was acquitted of molesting a minor male student because of her Effexor usage. After that I typed into Google “Effexor + teacher,” “Prozac + teacher,” “Celexa + teacher,” etc. Then I’d get into a lot of things like a teacher says Effexor is a great drug for whatever.

DH:          How old were you when you created SSRI stories?

RM:          Well I’m 74 now, and I put up my first 1000 cases that I’d saved for 10 years in 2006 — so I was 69. I was in good health then.

DH:          What did you work at?

RM:          I was a music teacher. I went to Catholic University of America in Washington and then transferred to Drake University and got my bachelor of music education in Iowa. I taught for three years and then moved to Omaha where I met Gene. We got married and moved to Houston, Texas. He worked on the moon shot back in 1963, 1964. We lived there till 1968 and then we moved to Dallas. I got in touch with Andy Vickery of Houston over the Sargeant Steven Christian case here in Dallas. So I knew Andy Vickery and Rick Ewing before I even put up my message board.

DH:          You’re a former music teacher who at the age of 69 creates SSRI stories. What could other people do to make a difference?

RM:          Well I think other people should be watching the personalities of people.

watch the personalities of people.

If they see a sudden change in the personality of somebody they’ve known for years they need to ask them “Are you on a medication?” If you ask a person “Are you taking a drug?” they often think you mean an illegal drug. So it’s a very delicate question to ask. I think when a family has a person who starts on a medication and their personality changes, they don’t realize it is the medication causing this. They just think that the illness is getting worse.

We have so many cases where, “Well, he started on Prozac and his illness was getting worse so we took him to the doctors and he doubled the dose.”

We have all kinds of cases like that. So I think people need to be aware of what SSRIs can do and how they can cause this personality change.

DH:          What you’re answering though is what we need to do about this group of drugs. What I’m asking is what can people do to change the system? You’ve been an extraordinary example to people of what they could be doing.

RM:          I wish that there was a group working on the SSRIs because it’s affecting so many people — perhaps as many as one out of three. There is a WEB MD article on SSRI Stories that states that one out of three people may become worse on antidepressants and even become bipolar. I mean in some the effects are just mild personality changes, they get kind of grumpy you know. But there are ones that are serious, I don’t know how often that happens, but it’s a lot.

Another thing is that the suicide rate has not really gone down in the United States. It declined a little in the 1990′s because of the good economy but the government statistics from the years 2005 to 2007 shows it’s gone up for all ages except 24 — the Black Box warning worked!

terrible things are happening

And terrible things are happening to these poor wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re giving these kids antidepressants and sending them out in battle where they’re committing suicides and homicides and everything. That man from Sherman, Texas, that went into the clinic in Bagdad and shot five people dead. Remember that one? He was on PTSD drugs, one of them an antidepressant, and they had just changed his dosage the day before. Also, what was the psychiatrist taking who shot and killed 14 American soldiers at Ford Hood, Texas? They did mention in Gulf News that he was the type of psychiatrist who tended to medicate himself.

Some of the atypical antipsychotics like Seroquel and Risperdal can also cause violence and that should be brought out too. And then there’s Chantix, which has so many cases of violence. How many people are taking Chantix? Probably not very many. It’s just for people who want to quit smoking. One person did say to me, and it was a doctor, that yes Prozac is number two on the list in that recent article by Tom Moore, but everybody takes Prozac. In other words he was thinking because of the number of people, there isn’t really a problem. I said well what about Chantix, and he just nodded in a puzzled fashion. Physicians tend to be skeptical.

DH:          Why?

The physician does not recognize what’s happening

RM:          This is what I’ve noticed from the people who have contacted me through SSRI stories. The physician does not recognize what’s happening. The patient is started on Prozac. They go to the physician and the physician says, “How are you feeling?” “Oh I feel tremendous, I feel great.” That’s wonderful, but what’s happening then is that person is going home and they are deviant, they’re divorcing their husband or wife and they’re taking off on a motorcycle — I’m not kidding this is a true story — to go to Florida and live with some beach bum who tends bar. They’re leaving their two children behind and their husband and the doctor didn’t have a clue. Because they said they felt great. That’s what’s so weird.

A lot of people type in “SSRIs and divorce.” I’m amazed the number of people who do that, or “Zoloft ruined my marriage” — I can remember that from many people. Somebody else typed in something like “Paxil made me crazy.” Those are the people who are reaching SSRI Stories, but who are they? They’re just the man in the street and not any powerful group. So we need a group to work on all of these different angles, the divorce, the hypomania, the pyromania, the kleptomania, nymphomania — I think that’s what’s happening to these woman schoolteachers. What they don’t realize is that people who go into mania and hypomania have an increased libido.

It’s the children that disturb me the most.

But it’s the children that disturb me the most. There is a post on SSRI Stories about a 15-year-old girl who was forced by her father to take Paxil and then to double the dose. A few days later she slit her younger brother’s throat and buried him in the back garden. I cannot imagine a young girl doing this. These are some of the really tragic cases and they are being hidden.

This why I can’t read mystery stories anymore. If I wanted to read something, I will read a comedy. Every time Gene and I went to the movies or out with friends to movies we would go to comedies. I would have to see a comedy because I would sit all day long and find those cases and I needed relief from this. All I can say is that we need some group that’s big and powerful who will pick up all the different angles there are in SSRI Stories.

Black Dog Tribe – new website

Someone I know has been helping in the development of a new website – Black Dog Tribe

The famous face behind the site is UK comedian Ruby Wax, who suffers from depression herself. I’ll let her explain the thinking behind the website:

Four years and six months ago, I had the tsunami of all depressions where I had to be institutionalized and couldn’t leave a chair for five months. Depression doesn’t care if you’re well known or live in a mud hut or what colour you are, it just loves everyone.

When I recovered, my friend Judith Owen and I decided to write a show called, “Live from the Priory” which we performed at the actual Priory. We then toured NHS institutions for the following two years, which we loved and if you can make a catatonic laugh you’re half way to Broadway.

I only came out about having depression because they took a photo of me for Comic Relief. I thought it was going to be a small picture but no, I saw my enlarged photo, captioned that I had depression in every tube station I went in. I hurled myself in front of one and then saw another and hurled and then another going down the escalator. I just had to give up there were so many, so I came out of the closet and became the poster girl for mental illness.

 

Doctors sued for creating addicts

This story from today’s Independent – interesting, as it exactly parallels the anti-depressant story all too many of us recognise.

Doctors in denial? – surely not…

Doctors are being sued for creating prescription drug addicts amid claims they have failed to follow safety guidelines published more than 20 years ago.

Lawyers and medical experts have reported an increase in clinical negligence cases by patients left physically and psychologically broken by “indefensible” long-term prescribing of addictive tranquillisers such as Valium, collectively known as benzodiazepines.

Patients taken off the drugs too quickly, leaving them disabled with pain for months if not years, are also seeking legal redress. Many say they were never told about the dangers of rapid detoxification, which can lead to seizures and even death in severe cases. Doctors have been accused of being “in denial” about the problem.

Experts have warned of a coming flood of legal action against doctors who failed to inform their patients about the addictive nature of some tranquillisers, currently given to millions of people worldwide. They are prescribed to deal with common social and psychological complaints, from exam stress to relationship problems and bereavement.

Professor Malcolm Lader, whose research in the 1980s suggested a link between long-term tranquilliser use and brain damage, said he now gives legal advice about negligent prescribing and dangerous detoxifications “at least every three months”.

He told The Independent: “There is no sign that such prescribing is diminishing. The Royal College of GPs is in denial about this because they fear being sued. With around a million long-term users, the [legal] defence unions will at some point decide that these cases are indefensible and GPs will have to pay their own costs.” A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse estimated in 2009 that there were 1.5 million involuntary tranquilliser addicts in the UK. More than 6.6 million benzodiazepine prescriptions for anxiety were dispensed by England’s pharmacies in 2010, a 15 per cent increase in 10 years. Prescriptions for Valium have increased by 20 per cent over the same period.

The first successful legal claim against individual doctors dates back to 2002, when Ray Nimmo, who was prescribed Valium for 14 years, won his case against GPs in Scunthorpe. His lawyer, Caroline Moore, has had five new referrals in the past month.

Some people develop a tolerance after regular use for two weeks, needing a higher dose to induce the same effects; others report using them for years with few adverse effects. For most, stopping is the problem: they can experience a range of painful psychological and physical symptoms, worse than their original complaint.

Dr Adrian Rogers, a GP who is also an expert in medico-legal cases, said: “I can’t believe there aren’t more claims. The fact that lots of doctors are prescribing long-term isn’t an excuse – no responsible GP would do it.”

There are only a handful of specialist tranquilliser withdrawal services across the UK. Most people rely on inexpert help from GPs or addiction services aimed at illegal-drug addicts. Recovery Road, a new helpline, receives around 250 calls a month, mainly from those who have detoxified too rapidly. “These poor people describe being in a kind of torture chamber,” said Baylissa Frederick, of the organisation.

The Bridge Project in Bradford tracks down long-term benzodiazepine users. In five months this year, one of its specialist drugs workers helped 102 patients.

Dr Chris Ford, a GP and benzodiazepine expert, is drafting new guidance to help doctors avoid creating addicts and advise them on the best way safely to detoxify those who are already dependent. Controversially, it will endorse long-term use for a limited number of patients. “These are good drugs – they work, but it is a slippery slope if doctors do not have systems in place to make sure they are only used in the short term,” she said.

“These people should not be treated like illicit drug users. Any detox has to be done very slowly. These drugs can cause serious long-term problems, so GPs should encourage people to come off them, but, for some, it is necessary to compromise. No one should be forced to withdraw,” she added.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The Government’s drug strategy set out [in the White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People] an ambition to tackle dependence on all drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines. It is clear that this is a problem that affects some people in most areas and is much unreported. Public health bodies will be responsible for the commissioning of services to support people recovering from dependence.”

Lives blighted by addiction

Rachel, 62, from the Midlands. Rachel (not her real name) is trying to sue an NHS clinic that detoxed her from tranquillisers so rapidly she has been left bedridden

“Around nine years ago my GP prescribed me Valium. I didn’t know it was addictive; my doctor kept giving me repeat prescriptions over the phone. I didn’t have any problems until five years ago when I started to get numbness in my face and irregular heartbeats.

“I was offered a detox in an NHS rehab unit… I was in for five weeks, and they cut me down 1mg every other day, which they insisted was very slow. It was absolute hell.

“I didn’t want to go back on the drug but I had no choice. Most days I can’t stand up… my memory has gone. Listening to those detox people is the biggest mistake I ever made. The doctor won’t accept the pain is caused by the withdrawal.”

Janet Marshall, 53, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, won £25,000 in an out-of-court settlement from her GP after “losing” 28 years to prescribed benzodiazepines

“I was 26, I’d just had my fourth baby, and I had a panic attack. I called the GP because I thought I was dying, and was prescribed oxazepam, even though I was breast-feeding. I became hooked, taking 15 10mg tablets a day at one point.

My fifth child was born an addict; he suffered withdrawal symptoms, but by this time I couldn’t cope without them. Sometimes my pharmacist would give me some to tide me over the weekend if I’d run out. Five years ago, I changed GP, and she said I had a problem and started cutting me down, but far too quickly. It was like the doctors were my drug dealers. I couldn’t talk properly or stop shaking. It lasted for months, but I felt so much more alert and got my senses back.

“I feel angry and bitter at the Government, the pharmaceutical companies, the GPs – they all knew about it. I was a healthy normal person before the benzos; I was a good mother but I was robbed of that. I feel so guilty about my kids.”

Research repeatedly shows that antidepressants give little benefit – but have many side effects

So, slowly, slowly the mainstream media seems to be catching up with what we’ve known for quite a while – the drugs don’t work, we’ve just been told they do.

If you follow this argument to source, then you have to question the drug companies about the way they run their drug trials and the way the way they market their (all too often) sub-standard and dangerous drugs – Glaxo, amongst many others, has a track record of hiding negative clinical trial data that would knock sales of its drugs – the story of Seroxat and Study 329 is truly shocking.

This from today’s Independent:

What if the drugs don’t work?

Research repeatedly shows that antidepressants give little benefit – but serious side effects. Yet millions who take them regard them as lifesavers. Markie Robson-Scott reports on the controversy that is dividing psychiatrists.

When my American friend Bill, who’d been on SSRI antidepressants for 22 years (Prozac, followed by Paxil, Lexapro, then Celexa), read a two-part article by Dr Marcia Angell in The New York Review of Books recently about the crisis in psychiatry and the inefficacy of antidepressants, he stopped taking his meds (tapering off gradually, monitored by his doctor). “The article brought on enough doubt to push me over,” he said. Since then, his moods have become more volatile – more anger, more emotion, such as crying at the end of the last Harry Potter film (he’s in his 50s). But he’s got his libido back after years of “muffled response” and that seems a worthwhile trade-off.

Instead of listening to Prozac, have we been listening to placebo all along? Research repeatedly appears to show that: antidepressants are little more than placebos, with very little therapeutic benefit but serious side-effects (70 per cent of people on Celexa and Paxil report sexual dysfunction, and in some, it carries on even when they stop taking the pills). The theory of chemical imbalance as a cause of depression is an unproven hypothesis; and doctors are prescribing the drugs mainly because of the “juggernaut of pharmaceutical promotion”, as the US psychiatrist Dr Daniel Carlat calls it.

It’s not surprising there’s a US media furore – about 10 per cent of Americans over the age of six take antidepressants. In the UK, prescriptions for the drugs went up 43 per cent in the last four years to 23 million a year.

Professor Irving Kirsch, associate director of the programme in placebo studies at Harvard Medical School and author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, says the theory of chemical imbalance – that there is not enough serotonin, norepinephrine and/or dopamine in the brain synapses of depressed people – doesn’t fit the data (lowering serotonin levels in healthy patients has no impact on their moods). Chemical imbalance is a myth, he says. It follows that the idea that “antidepressants can cure depression chemically is simply wrong”. His meta-analysis of 38 clinical studies – 40 per cent of which had been withheld from publication because drug companies didn’t like the results – involving more than 3,000 depressed patients on SSRIs shows that only 25 per cent of the benefit of antidepressant treatment was due to the drugs and that 50 per cent was a placebo effect. “In other words, the placebo effect was twice as large as the drug effect,” though the placebo response was lower in the severely depressed.

This is not quite as damning as it sounds: placebos are extraordinarily powerful and can be “as strong as potent medications”. Placebo response is specific: placebo morphine eases pain, placebo antidepressants relieve depression. It’s a question of expectancy and conditioning: if you expect to feel better, you will, even if you’re getting negative side effects, because side effects, Kirsch says, convince people that they’ve been given a potent drug.

Psychotherapy boosts the placebo effect and is “significantly more effective than medication” for all levels of depression, he says. Antidepressants should only be used “as a last resort and only for the most severely depressed”.

Of course, not everyone agrees. Ian Anderson, Professor at psychiatry at the University of Manchester, who is to debate whether “antidepressants are useful in the treatment of depression” with Kirsch at a conference in Turkey next month, thinks we’re in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we say antidepressants are rubbish. Antidepressants are part of a doctor’s toolbox, though probably most useful for the most depressed; some people don’t take to talking therapies; it’s not an either/or situation, he says.

Professor Allan Young, chair of psychiatry at Imperial College London, agrees. “Depression is such a huge category of illness – there are multiple types, and each type responds differently.” Of course, the brain and the body are inextricably linked, he says, and placebo effects are greater in the less-severely ill.

To make things more complicated, there’s the nocebo effect. If you expect to feel bad when you come off antidepressants, you will, because “we tend to notice random small negative changes and interpret them as evidence that we are in fact getting worse”, Kirsch says.

Lucy, who was suicidal, took Cipramil (Celexa in the US) on and off for 10 years. She says the drug “gave me back myself, it was like a ray of light shining through fog”, but the side effects – nausea and lost libido among others – forced her off it. Then “it was like a clock ticking, a twitch in the back of my mind. I lived in fear of the depression coming back. The only thing that kept me alive was knowing the pills were there. But was it because I believed I was a depressive so when I had the negative feelings I panicked?”

For Judy, lofepramine, a tricyclic, worked well. “First I was given Prozac, which gave me huge anxiety, like a bad trip, and made me horribly aware of all my nerve-endings. But lofepramine worked from the first day. When I took it in the morning I’d get a chemical lift, like a switch being turned on: it was a fabulous rush of joy.”

She stopped taking it after six months. Several months later, she felt low, though not depressed – “I feel depression like a stone in my solar plexus, and it wasn’t like that. But still I thought it would be nice to have that short-cut to happiness, so I took a lofepramine and it had no effect whatsoever – because I wasn’t really depressed. So to me the placebo theory makes no sense.” Neither does it to Hannah, who took Prozac for 10 years and says “it was absolutely fantastic and saved my life”.

Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist in Boston and author of Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry – A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis says that prescribing is a hit-and-miss affair. “Unfortunately we know a good bit less about what we are doing than you might think,” he writes. “When I find myself using phrases like ‘chemical imbalance’ and ‘serotonin deficiency’, it is usually because I’m trying to convince a reluctant patient to take a medication. Using these words makes their illness seem more biological, taking some of the stigma away.”

Most lay people, he says, don’t realise how little shrinks know about the underpinning of mental illness, though he’s not as convinced as Kirsch about the placebo effect and makes the point that the patients who turn up at his office are different from those recruited into clinical trials because drug companies, desperate to get their product to outperform a placebo, are picky about who they choose.

You have to have “pure” depression, unblemished by alcohol use, anxiety problems, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, mild or long-term depression – which, says Carlat, would exclude most of his patients. Yet, as Marcia Angell, author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, says: “It’s true… but they are the best we have.”

If there’s one thing that’s clear among the contradictions, it’s that the brain remains mysterious. As Carlat says: “Undoubtedly, there are neurobiological and genetic causes for all mental disorders, but they are still beyond our understanding.” All we really know is that depression exists and that sometimes the drugs seem to work – even if it’s a placebo effect.

Antidepressants: the guidelines

* Never stop taking antidepressants without discussing it with your doctor, because abrupt cessation of SSRIs can cause withdrawal symptoms that can be both physical and mental.

* If you do decide to stop, you’ll need to reduce the dose gradually rather than stopping abruptly.

* If you’re happy with your antidepressant and you feel it works for you, then keep on taking it. Regular use is what works: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, says Professor Irving Kirsch.

Derrick Bird: What motivated the Cumbria gunman?

There’s an article in today’s Guardian about Derrick Bird’s motivation.

Police conceded last night that they might never know exactly what made Derrick Bird – a seemingly sociable, outgoing man who had just become a grandfather – shoot dead his twin brother and 11 other people, many seemingly at random, in a succession of towns and villages around west Cumbria.

Speaking to reporters late last night, Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde from Cumbria police said his force would have to painstakingly piece together all the details of Bird’s life.

“That involves understanding what he has been through, his family circumstances, a whole range of things before we can make judgments,” he said. “And it may well be that we never actually find that out. But hopefully by speaking to people, looking at his history we will be able to figure out what caused this.”

The first thing I wonder, as I do whenever I hear about stories like this, is, was Derrick Bird being treated with an SSRI/SNRI such as Seroxat?

I don’t know the answer, but we have the right to ask the question and the louder Glaxo shouts about Seroxat having “no proven link to violence”, the more I want to know the truth.

As Peter Breggin wrote in an article about the Virgina Tech masssacre; “For the past fifteen years or more, I’ve been writing about the capacity of psychiatric drugs to cause mayhem, murder and suicide. In early 2005 the FDA finally issued a warning that antidepressants cause both suicidality and violence. For example, the FDA’s mandated warning label for antidepressants states that these drugs produce “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania.”

Note the reference to “irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity” in the label or package insert for antidepressants. That’s a formula for violence. Note the mention of akathisia, another source of both violence and suicide. And finally, note the reference to mania, yet another drug-induced syndrome associated with violence and suicide.”

More background here and here and also at SSRI Stories.

Duncan James beats his Seroxat addiction

Duncan James (who used to be in boyband Blue) has recently spoken about Seroxat (Paxil) and the terrible trouble he had trying to stop taking the drug.

So it seems Duncan is the same as me and, I’m sure, many of you reading this – but we must all be wrong about our addiction to Seroxat and it being an evil drug that causes terrible withdrawal problems.

But how can we be so wrong?

Simply because Glaxo says so… they still peddle the myth that Seroxat is safe, that it’s not addictive in any way and any withdrawal effects are “minor and short lived”.

In the real world though, we patients know different.

I’m very glad that Duncan James has had the courage to talk about his problems. Every bit of publicity can only help to get the truth heard and his one interview will have reached hundreds of thousands of more people than me and this blog in 3 years of writing.

Thanks Duncan and I hope you’re doing better.

Read the whole interview at the Daily Mail:

He says the confusion about his sexuality, combined with the death of his grandparents, a former girlfriend becoming pregnant with his baby, and the breakup of Blue, led to a deep depression.
‘For a long time my head was so mixed up I didn’t know what was going on,’ he says.

‘The band were so huge and we were everywhere. I didn’t quite know who I was and I didn’t have a moment to sit down and figure it out. Then there was the fact that I had a daughter on the way – that wasn’t planned, her mother and I weren’t even together.’

‘And when Blue split up it really hit me. I was put on anti-depressants. I would go to see my psychiatrist and I would be in there crying and shaking.

He says that as he started feeling stronger he decided to come off his antidepressant, Seroxat. But the sideeffects of coming off made him feel worse than ever.

Duncan says: ‘I was on something like 40 milligrams a day and the doctor said you can’t just stop them.

‘It took me about a year to get off them and I was so ill trying to do it.
‘I was working on the National Lottery show, and I was getting panic attacks live on TV reading out the numbers and just about keeping it together.
‘Inside, I was thinking: “I can’t do this.” ’

More on Shane Clancy and Dr Michael Corry

I’ve had a couple of comments about this story that I think are worthy of bringing to the fore:

This first comment is from an interview in the Irish press with Shane’s father, Patrick:

Shane was taking it for about a week when he took the remaining three weeks’ supply in one day, possibly an attempt at suicide. He told his mother what had happened. Two days later, she took her son to another GP. It was explained to the second doctor that Shane had taken a high dosage of Citrol two days previously. The GP prescribed Cipramil, another brand of citalopram.

As this GP was aware Shane had misused antidepressants two days previously, it was instructed on the three-week prescription that the chemist should only supply Shane with one week of the drug at a time, according to his father. But when Shane went to fill the second prescription, the chemist asked him if he wanted to get the three-week prescription filled at once, and Shane said yes. It was Friday 14 August. His family believe Shane took another high dosage of antidepressants the next day. In the early hours of 16 August, Shane Clancy carried out his attack.

“Shane was the type of person who was always careful about taking pills. If he had a Lemsip, he’d phone me to ask if he could take paracetamol as well a few hours later. I don’t know if he was attempting suicide when he took three weeks’ worth of antidepressants in one day. I might never know,” says his father.

“I don’t want to be seen as pointing the finger at the doctors or the chemist but surely if it said to only give him one week’s supply at a time, the chemist should have followed that instruction.”

The whole interview can be read here.

The second comment sheds some light on the complaint made against Dr Michael Corry:

This is absolutely outrageous, but I am not surprised that the (predominantly pharma-funded) psychiatric community in Ireland is baying for Michael Corry’s blood.. He has been a strong critic of both the influence of the industry and the misdeeds of his own profession for quite some time now… It is always the brave ones who go up against the “status quo” whom are first to be attacked..

On the subject of which senior psychiatrist complained about Michael Corry… ?
Read the following article

Professor of Psychiatry charges Dr Michael Corry at Medical Council
A senior psychiatrist, Professor Timothy Dinan of University College, Cork, has laid a complaint against Dr Michael Corry at the Medical Council. The complaint concerns Michael Corry’s statements about the role of SSRI antidepressants in the murder/suicide of Sebastian Creane and Shane Clancy.

Dinan, who is an enthusiastic advocate of SSRIs and SNRIs and has declared his close relations with several drug companies, accuses Dr Corry of “”statements regarding the pharmacology of antidepressants” and of making “statements regarding a diagnosis without ever seeing the patient”.

Dinan has joined in a previous attempt to chill discussion of the effects of antidepressants. Signing himself as Timothy Dinan, MD, PhD, FRCPsych, FRCPI, Professor of Psychiatry, University College Cork, the academic was one of six professors of psychiatry who penned a letter published in the Irish Times on 16 November 2006 demanding the resignation of the then Minister for Mental Health, Tim O’Malley, for two reasons. One, O’Malley had dared to suggest that many everyday difficulties of life were being mis-labeled as ‘clinical depression’. Secondly, he had dared to suggest, with good reason, that the alleged benefits of medications used to treat mental illness cannot be proven scientifically in the way that other medications can. Both suggestions are cardinal sins for those who rule the world of psychiatry, and whose word is law among the students they teach.

WE MUST DEFEND MICHAEL CORRY’S RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT!

To defend Dr Michael Corry we need other health professionals to stand by him.
We appeal to doctors and nurses, especially psychiatric nurses, together with psychotherapists and counsellors, who are concerned at this attack on the right of medical professionals to oppose the monopoly of bio-psychiatry and are willing to stand up and be counted.

Please contact Dr Corry’s defence team: email wellbeing[at]wellbeingfoundation.com
(use the @ symbol instead of [at] )

The most chilling part of Professor Timothy Dinan’s complaint is that Corry made “statements regarding the pharmacology of antidepressants”. If such a complaint is upheld as valid, neither Dr Corry nor any other doctor registered with the Medical Council will ever again be able to ‘make a statement’ on the action of a drug such as Seroxat or Lexapro — or, by extension, of any drug.

Are you willing to allow this to happen?
Send objections to Professor Timothy Dinan’s complaint to:
Mr John Sidebotham
Professional Standards Department Medical Council
Lynn House
Portobello Court
Lower Rathmines Road Dublin 6
Fax: 01 4983103
Email: complaints@mcirl.ie

Timothy Dinan is well known for his pharma-connections in Ireland…. . Need we say more? …
Timothy Dinan puts his name to pro-SSRI literature and advertising, ones such as this “leaflet” for Lundbeck pharmaceuticals (biggest distributers of SSRI meds in Ireland)

Farewell Prozac

Here’s a new blog which I hope you may find interesting – it’s an ongoing account of a writer (Anton Vowl) who’s recently taken his last hit of Prozac and walked away from medicating depression after six years of Lexapro, Celexa, Cymbalta and Prozac (thanks to Phil Dawdy for alerting me).

Farewell Prozac is very well written and I look forward to following Anton’s journey and wish him all the very best

Depressed ABN Amro banker who could not live with his shame

A sad ending to the story I wrote about a few days ago.

This from The Independent:

When Huibert Boumeester left his home in Belgravia last Monday morning, it was supposed to have been to attend an appointment to start rebuilding a once-glittering banking career. After three months out of work while battling depression, he was due to discuss his options with a City headhunting agency.

But rather than head to the Square Mile, the multimillionaire former chief financial officer of Dutch bank ABN Amro, philanthropist and country sports enthusiast climbed into his dark blue Range Rover together with two of the six shotguns he kept at his houses in Scotland and London.

Boumeester headed out of the capital towards the woodlands around Windsor Great Park, a spot he had come to know when seeking sanctuary from the pressures exerted on him last year. The stresses of work had escalated when his employer of 21 years became the subject of a disastrous £50bn takeover by the Royal Bank of Scotland – and an emblem of the hubris that led to the credit crunch.

After a week of frantic worry in which his wife had made a public appeal for him to get in touch, the grim purpose of Boumeester’s visit to a wood at Winkfield became clear when a body was discovered on Sunday morning. Thames Valley Police said the man, who has not been formally identified but is believed to be Boumeester, died from gunshot wounds to the head. His £75,000 car was found nearby.

Sources said there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the 49-year-old father of three, suggesting that he has joined a growing list of senior financiers for whom substantial wealth offered little protection from the emotional traumas of joblessness and diminishing status in a recession blamed squarely on their profession.

A friend of Boumeester said yesterday: “Huibert was a big character. He was a deal-maker like almost no-one else I’ve met. Through sheer force of personality he made his deals happen, without being the textbook ruthless banker. He was hurt by the ABN takeover. He backed the losing bidder and he had to go. After that he struggled personally. What has happened is incredibly sad. He clearly felt he couldn’t go on in the current climate.”

Researchers at Edinburgh University predicted earlier this year that the rapid onset and depth of the current recession would lead to an increase in mental illness and spark a rise in suicide rates similar to those seen during the downturns of the early 1980s and between 1991 and 1992.

The Samaritans also warned that unemployed people were two to three times more likely to take their own lives than those in employment. A spokesman said: “If you lose your job, it can cause a loss of status and feelings of guilt. Even if you are employed, the concern of keeping your job and being a breadwinner can work its way into mental illness.”

The scion of one of Holland’s most influential industrialist families, Huibert Boumeester – described as “ebullient, respected and driven”– had dedicated his entire career to ABN Amro. He joined the Dutch bank as a law graduate in 1987, initially working behind the counter at a branch in Utrecht before rapidly ascending in the company’s investment banking division.

He held a series of positions in Europe, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, supervising investments worth €166bn (£141bn) before becoming the bank’s chief financial officer in 2007. His appointment coincided with the height of the battle for ABN between a consortium led by RBS and Barclays, which had intended a merger with the Dutch bank.

Boumeester, who was predicted to receive a 35 per cent pay rise and a bonus of €2.3m if the Barclays bid had won, was also expected to become the sole senior ABN manager who would become an executive director in the combined banking group.

A City source said: “It was well known that most of the senior ABN guys wanted the Barclays deal, including Huibert Boumeester. They could see that if RBS won, their positions would be pretty much untenable because they were in overlapping jobs. Huibert Boumeester was in exactly that position. After seeing out contractual obligations he would have gone.”

The ABN board member, whose salary is thought to have increased from £440,000 to more than £600,000 in 2007, left the bank in March last year. It is understood he received a “golden goodbye” worth €3.8m before joining the board of Artemis Asset Management, a London-based fund manager formerly owned by ABN.

Boumeester had a lifestyle to match his status as a respected and influential financier. As well as his £6m townhouse in Wilton Crescent, a handsome Regency terrace close to Harrods, he owned a home in Clapham, south London, and a 150-acre estate near Coupar Angus in Perthshire.

Along with his role as the sole director of a company specialising in country sports run from Belgravia, Boumeester was also a philanthropist and set up three foundations in the name of an ancestor who was a Dutch general in the late 19th century and oversaw Holland’s military activities in Asia.

The Boumeester Foundation, established after Mr Boumeester’s time in Asia, aims to conserve traditional culture in countries such as Vietnam, China and Bhutan as well as promoting education and nature conservation in the developing world.In a statement on the charity’s website, Boumeester said: “The amount of talented people worldwide has never been counted, but it is certain that a good few talents never blossom. In as far as this is caused by a lack of means to pay for a proper education then those who have the means can obviously provide assistance. If it can be helped, then the development of talent should not be hindered. “

But beneath the affluent exterior, the Dutchman was struggling with inner demons. He left Artemis in March this year for what the company said were “personal reasons”, and it is understood he had been suffering from depression for a number of months. He was also living separately from his wife, Anne, and their two younger children.

At the time of his disappearance last week, Scotland Yard underlined that Boumeester had been “feeling down of late” and “vulnerable”. Despite an appeal from Anne Boumeester for her husband to get in touch, his mobile phone remained switched off and there was no attempt to use any bank card.

In a statement last night, his family said: “We are deeply grieved by what we must now assume is a tragic outcome. We are left with great sadness.”

City suicides: Victims of the credit crunch

Kirk Stephenson

The 47-year-old millionaire boss of private equity company Olivant Advisers killed himself last September by jumping in front an express train in Berkshire. His wife, Karina, said that when the banking crisis hit, he had become “very tense and worried about a lot of things he had worked hard for”.

Adolf Merckle

The fifth richest man in Germany, who once presided over a £5bn fortune, walked 300 metres through snow from his home to a railway line in January this year and stepped in front of a train. His family said the 74-year-old had felt “powerless to act” as his empire of 120 companies folded in the crisis.

Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet

The 66-year-old French fund manager was found at his desk in New York shortly before Christmas having cut his wrists. His company lost more than £850m in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Eric von der Porten

The San Francisco hedge-fund manager killed himself last December when his investments fell by more than 40 per cent in a year. The 50-year-old’s family said he had been struggling with depression but the downturn had been “a big trigger”.

Thomas Sabour

The 44-year-old managing director of a Mayfair investment manager died in his London flat in April after taking a large amount of cocaine and some heroin. He was being treated for depression which was blamed on the credit crunch.

David Kellerman

The chief financial officer of American mortgage giant Freddie Mac was found hanging in his Washington home in April. The company was under investigation over its accounting methods.

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