Today, July 21, would have been Sara Carlin’s 20th birthday… Instead, on Sunday, May 6, 2007, Sara, suffering from the side effects of a powerful anti-depressive drug, grabbed a piece of electrical wiring, fashioned a crude noose and hanged herself in the basement of her parent’s house. “We thought this has to be murder. This girl would never do that,” said Neil, her father. “How could someone so beautiful and brilliant, who had so much going for her want to end her life?”
Sara had been prescribed Seroxat/Paxil and it changed the person she was. The full story is here.
What follows is from Bob Fiddaman. I couldn’t put it any better:
I could never even begin to imagine what it would feel like to lose one of my children, in fact the mere thought of it upsets me deeply, so much so that the following story rips at my heart and saddens me whilst at the same time it angers me and fills my heart with hatred.
To lose a child through natural causes is tough, to lose a child through an accident even tougher but to lose a child because at such an early age they thought suicide was a solution must be one of the worst experiences any parent must go through.
Quite what that ‘experience’ feels like, will hopefully be unknown to many of the readers of this blog.
Unfortunately for Neil and Rhonda Carlin, they no longer have the option of wondering what it would feel like to lose a child. Their daughter, Sara, had her whole life ahead of her. She was looking forward to finishing university to pursue a career in dermatology. Instead, on Sunday, May 6, 2007, Sara, suffering from the side effects of a powerful anti-depressive drug, [Seroxat]grabbed a piece of electrical wiring, made a noose and hanged herself in the basement of family home.
Sara began to experience anxiety and visited a doctor in an effort to alleviate it, explained her mom, Rhonda. The doctor prescribed Sara, then 17, Seroxat.
In 2003 and 2004 Health Canada had stated that the drug should not be given to children and adolescents under 18 years of age due to a possible increased risk of suicidal events. Sara’s parents were unaware of this and, I suspect, was Sara’s doctor. Why else would a doctor prescribe a potential suicide pill to a child?
Neil and Rhonda Carlin both noticed a considerable change in Sara’s behaviour after she began taking the Seroxat. They both strongly agree that the change in Sara was due to the drug she was taking.
Sara missed several doses in the days leading up to her death because her medication had been stolen. Her parents believe that Sara made up for her missed dosages later by taking more than what she should have. “She had no idea what that would do to her, how potent and how dangerous these drugs are,” said Rhonda.
On Sunday, May 6, 2007 Sara Carlin was found hanging by a piece of electrical wiring in the basement of her parents house.
“We thought this has to be murder. This girl would never do that,” said Neil. “How could someone so beautiful and brilliant, who had so much going for her want to end her life?”
Today [21st July] would have been Sara’s 20th birthday. Her parents should have been celebrating, watching her unwrap her presents, watching her smiling face as her friends gathered around her. Instead, Neil and Rhonda Carlin will be grieving. Their hearts will be full of sadness. Their heads full of questions as to why this was allowed to happen.
Had GlaxoSmithKline said from the offset that Seroxat should not be given to children then maybe Sara would be around today, maybe her parents could have helped her blow out all 20 candles on her birthday cake.
My heart aches today – I celebrate my 44th birthday in 10 days time. I can sit with my family and friends. I can feel warm inside when my father and sisters hug me to wish me a happy birthday.
I contacted Neil on Sunday and he wrote back to me and offered me a letter that his wife, Rhonda, had wrote to her daughter, a special letter for her 20th birthday.
Both Neil and Rhonda have gave me permission to publish the letter on here.
I sincerely hope the letter opens the conscience minds of all those involved in the suppression of Seroxat data.
It begs the question why any company would want to hold back data that endangered our children.. and hold back that data they certainly did.
This letter hurts.
This letter goes out to the scientists and employees of GlaxoSmithKline whom were part of the suppression of data.
How many more candles will be unused Glaxo?
July 16 2008
My Darling Sara,
Happy Birthday Baby.
July 21 1988 was such a happy day for us. You were such a gift and remained a gift for 18 short years. I guess that counting the birthdays you will never celebrate lets me age you in my mind;but the pictures and the memories all stay the same, no new ones to add. You only lived 18 years and nothing will ever change that. I miss you so much ‐ we all miss you so much. The pain is really not speak able, the intense longing unbearable. Your family, friends, and teachers they all are in shock at losing you. Even strangers wrote on your face book: “Sara, you probably don’t remember me, but you tutored me in Math, you were so beautiful and smart and made me feel so good about myself”. Your math teacher and the students you helped talked about your gifted nature in teaching others not as fortunate as yourself Your school hockey team had a service for you and Mr. Mac and your team was stunned in sorrow. You were so excited your last year of high school. You took calculus the summer before so that you could get top marks in your remaining courses. You got 98% on that calculus and you were so proud of yourself. You got accepted into Western Health Sciences and were set you go after your dreams. But you got a bit anxious in your last semester and went to the doctor about your anxiety. I didn’t agree that you should take Paxil® but you said the doctor said it would make you feel better. You told you sister that it made you “not worry about things”. It seemed to me that you became unwell when you started this antidepressant you had bad dreams, had trouble sleeping, started to go out more and stay up late, quit hockey. Then in the summer you became so tired and lethargic we found by September that you had mononucleosis affected by the medication you were taking. You told your doctor you had trouble sleeping and were not feeling well so she gave you sleeping pills, and when you couldn’t sleep through the night she gave you another antidepressant to take along with the Paxil® to help you stay asleep. When we questioned this you said the doctor knew best and didn’t agree that you should come off the Paxil®; and in fact doubled the dosage. Well, a few months later, you hung yourself in desperation. Afraid to go to sleep and face your dreams, sitting at your computer half way through taking off you make‐up, you decided to cut a length of electrical cord that your dad had left out to wire some lights, and you ended your life in an instant. Oh my God Sara, I am so sorry that I didn’t realize the depth of your pain, that I didn’t take you away and get you off these prescription drugs. We found out after, when we looked into the drugs that we had trusted to your doctors – that there was a Health Canada Warning about Paxil® to not prescribe the drug to anyone under 19 years of age, and to carefully take them off if they were currently on the drug. You were only 17 and you were prescribed this drug. If only we knew this before, but no one told you or us about the hazards of these drugs. Your dad is doing everything he can to help other families – there are so many others who are suffering as you did. Your dad’s life purpose now is to do everything he can to warn others of the dangers of these drugs.
We have some of you friends coming over on Sunday to celebrate the beautiful life you lived.
Wish you were here too.
With All My Love, Mom XXX OOO
And Glaxo’s response to this story? Peter Schram, of Corporate Communications at GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Paxil, issued this statement: “Any suicide is tragic and the greatest risk for suicide is untreated depression.
“Paroxetine has been used by tens of millions of patients and has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment since its launch more than 15 years ago.
“The label contains instructions regarding the use of paroxetine and important safety information about the product
“If patients have questions regarding the use of paroxetine, or the management of their depression, they should contact their health-care professional.
“Also, it is very important that patients do not stop taking paroxetine without first consulting with their doctor.”
Perhaps Peter, you might like to comment on the negative trial data that your company kept hidden about the dangers of the use of Seroxat in children and teenagers – you know – Study 329.