Anti-depressants to blame for death, mother says

What always amazes me about stories like this is the contrast with the recent banning of Mephedrone in the UK. If there are potential votes in it and an election is coming up, then the politicians will jump on the bandwagon and make sure a drug is banned in double-quick time… even if there is no evidence that the drug is actually harmful.

However, if a drug comes from a pharma company that has huge financial clout and is able to influence government policy then no action is taken.

Thanks to the Truthman for alerting me to this and I hope I can help Leonie Fennell in some small way to to get some justice for her son.

If you want to read more about this story and the conflicts of interest in the Irish psychiatric community, then the link is here.

THE MOTHER of a Trinity College student who killed one person and then stabbed himself to death has blamed his death on anti-depressants he was taking.

Leonie Fennell said her son Shane Clancy had become increasingly agitated after taking the anti-depressant Citalopram (cipramil), a class of drug known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI).

He was prescribed the drug when he complained to the doctor about being severely depressed. That was just three weeks before he killed himself and Sebastian Creane, the boyfriend of his exgirlfriend Jennifer Hannigan.

Ms Fennell told an inquest into her son’s death that his behaviour while on the drug was “not the Shane we knew”. She said her son, a final-year Arts student in TCD, had been a “well-rounded young man” who was kind to others, but he underwent a seismic shift in May 2009 over the break-up of his relationship with Ms Hannigan and his heart was “broken”.

He received his first course in cipramil at the Carlton Clinic in Bray on July 27th last year. Four days later he rang the clinic to complain that his tongue was swollen and he was very agitated. He left a message with the receptionist but the doctor did not call back.

On August 5th, he took an overdose of the drug in an attempted suicide. On August 7th, the locum doctor in Ashford prescribed him a three-week course in the drug at a lower dosage.

Ms Fennell told a jury at the East Wicklow Coroner’s Court that she was “somewhat surprised” he had been prescribed the drug again. Breaking down in the witness box, Ms Fennell said she wanted to get the message out there that drugs such as Citalopram can be dangerous.

“ . . . Other people have to be informed that this can happen because if it happens to Shane it can happen to anybody,” she said.

Asst State Pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan said levels of Citalopram found in toxicology reports were 15 times that of the normal therapeutic dose.

The levels were somewhere between “toxic and lethal”, he told the inquest jury.

Dr Gilsenan said he was not an expert in the field but he had heard of international evidence that this drug should not be given to people under the age of 18 and that the drug often inhibited people’s decision-making powers before it started to work.

Irish-born psychiatrist Prof David Healy, the author of Let Them Eat Prozac , told the inquest it was clear from the evidence that Shane Clancy had had a bad reaction to the drug and should not have been prescribed another course.

He said Mr Clancy’s actions were “extraordinarily rare” but it did happen that such drugs contributed to a patient’s problem and made it worse in a small number of cases. Some people could take their own lives or be violent on the drugs, he said.

He explained that the toxicology reports of the level of the drug in Mr Clancy’s system did not necessarily mean he had taken an overdose, as such reports were often inaccurate.

Prof Healy, who works at the Cardiff University school of medicine in Wales, said there was a “low level” of public awareness about the potential impact of these drugs and he was as in favour of compulsory monitoring of patients on them.

The coroner for East Wicklow, Dr Cathal Louth, refused a request by the College of Psychiatry in Ireland to allow it to question Prof Healy’s evidence.

Ciaran Craven BL, for the college, interjected during the inquest saying there were concerns about linking SSRIs to suicidal and homicidal behaviour.

Mr Craven said he was worried that without expert testimony from the college people could be discouraged from taking medication perfectly suited to them.

The jury had to be dismissed while the coroner heard the application but Mr Louth rejected the request and said he was happy with the evidence he had heard.

Afterwards, psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey said she was disappointed the college was not allowed to give evidence and it would be responding today.

A statement from Lundbeck, the makers of Cirpramil, said there was “no evidence” linking the drug to violence and it actually had the opposite impact.

There was no increase in the risk of suicide and studies had shown no increase in violent behaviour in those who take the drug, Lundbeck said.


13 Responses to “Anti-depressants to blame for death, mother says”

  1. truthman30 Says:

    My heart goes out to all involved in this terrible event. The thing is, it could have easily been prevented had shane been monitored on the drug and also had his family been made aware of the dangers of ssri’s. The drug companies and psychiatrists know damn well that people can become hostile, aggressive, suicidal and out of their minds from the effects of these drugs. There are too many vested interests between irish psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry in ireland and i am glad that the irish college of psychiatry didn’t get a chance to spin and skew public opinion in this case. The bottom line is these drugs do cause these reactions. Most people who have been on them have talked about the odd way ssri’s make them feel. It seems to me that shane clancy had manifested extreme depersonalization and akathisia amongst other side effects which are proven and listed for ssri medications.. I myself suffered these from seroxat, these drugs make people do and think things that are completely out of character.. Well done to dr healy for again, telling the truth in the face of the sinister psych-pharma alliance, a profit driven machine with only one sole interest- profit!

  2. Nick Says:

    Does someone have the link to that panorama 2002 programme? many thanks, Nick

  3. darina Says:

    Can someone share the link to the 2002 Panorma programme please? regards, Darina

  4. leonie and tony Says:

    Thank you for telling the truth about these drugs.
    To know what a travesty of justice this was, you would have to have known Shane and what a good young man he was. Im shanes mum and i know 100% that shane wasn,t capable of hurting anybody or himself. Im so so sorry for what Shane did and for the other people involved.. he wasn,t capable of hurting anybody or himself!
    We will never stop fighting for him and we will get justice!
    This is not over.. and thank God the irish jury believed professor Healy and believed in Shane.

  5. truthman30 Says:

    David healy is one of the few ethical psychiatrists out there. Most of them are in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. I sincerely hope that you get justice for shane and from my own experiences with ssri’s , i know that they can cause these horrific reactions. I’ve lived through it. Irish psychiatry is so riddled with pharmaceutical influence that it has forgotten the hypocratic oath of ‘ first do no harm’ .. And that’s all these drugs do, they cause terrible harm..

    • Rachel Says:

      And what about all the people who use this as an excuse not to take the drugs and end up killing more people? What happened with Shane was terrible but at the end of the day – the consequences of the masses who need to be medicated not taking their medication could be just as terrible except in greater volume.

      People need to get a grip and realise that there were more than likely other factors which aren’t getting as much attention. I’m sorry about Shane but people need to cop on and realise that his was possibly an exceptional case and it is in danger of inciting a rally.

  6. IrishPsych Says:


    Irish College of Psychiatrists

    (An AIIP Meeting)

    Winter Meeting 2005
    10th & 11th November 2005

    l Silver Springs Moran Hotel, Cork l

    THURSDAY 10th November 2005

    MORNING SESSION: Tara Suite Chair: Dr Eugene Cassidy
    09.00 – 10.30: Registration & Morning Coffee –

    10.30 – 12.30: Research Presentations (Prize sponsored by GSK)

    (see page 2 for details)

    12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

    AFTERNOON SESSION Tara Suite Chair: Prof Ted Dinan
    13.30 – 14.30 Common Mental Disorders – From Genesis to Revelations.

    Professor David Goldberg – Professor Emeritus, Institute of Psychiatry, London

    14.30 – 15.30 Psychological Treatments in Bipolar Disorders- Does the evidence stack up? Professor Jan Scott, Professor of Psychological Treatments Research, Institute of Psychiatry, London.

    15.30 – 16.00 Tea/Coffee Break and Poster Presentations

    16.00 – 17.00 From Deinstitutionalisation to Reinstitutionalisation; the rise and fall of community care

    Dr Trevor Turner – Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director, East London and The City Mental Health NHS Trust, Homerton University and St Bartholomew’s Hospitals, London.

    17.00 Announcement of the GSK Prize Winners

    AIIP Council Meeting – Ulster Suite


    The following exhibition stands will be located at the conference:


    Glaxo Smithkline




    Astra Zeneca


    The presence of an exhibitor is not an endorsement of its products and exhibitors

    do not influence the content of the meeting.

    Conference Academic Co-Ordinator: Prof Ted Dinan

    Selectors for the Oral and Poster Presentations: Prof K Murphy, Dr S Cooper

    Judges for the AIIP Trainee Research Prize: Dr J Sheehan, Dr A Campbell, Dr S Cooper

  7. leonie and tony Says:

    I woner would your readers be interested in this link?
    This is a letter from lundbeck (the makers of cipramil) to warn doctors of the side effects of same!
    leonie (Shanes mum)

  8. leonie and tony Says:

    Lundbeck were quick to make a statement that their anti-depressant could not have caused what happened on august 16th. I wonder do they forget sending this letter?

  9. leonie and tony Says:

    Lundbeck were quick to make a statement that their drug (celexa/cipramil) could not have caused what happened on august 16th. I wonder did they forget about this letter they wrote?

  10. truthman30 Says:

    Lundbeck are the biggest distributors of ssri’s in ireland. They are also closely affiliated with some members of the irish psychiatric community.. And it wouldn’t take much of a google search to figure out who these folks are.. It is simply astounding that lundbeck would say these drugs are not related to violent acts when it states clearly on their product information that these drugs can cause behavioral changes etc.. Seems like damage limitation on the part of lundbeck.. Pretty pathetic really as these drugs have black box warnings in the states! So really they are talking crap… It’s been well known for years now that all ssri’s can cause a range of problems, that’s why they were banned for under 18’s..although psychiatry has yet too explain the difference between an 18 year old and a 21 or 22 year old , in terms of ssri tolerability i fail to see what the difference is, also gsk have admitted that there can be an increase in suicidal thoughts in under 25’s with seroxat, so could cipramil be the same? Of course.. They are of the same class so it is very likely.. All the ssri’s are poison ..

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