Tony Scott and depression

From a quick look around the internet this morning, it appears that Tony Scott, who took his own life, may have been struggling to deal with depression.

It’s “speculative” and “unconfirmed”, but clearly jumping off a bridge is not what someone who is well would do.

When you’re in the throes of depression you don’t think about your family and friends; suicide looks to be a logical step – the only way to find peace – a way out.

But I think questions need to be asked – if, in fact, he was being treated for depression then I think we have to know if antidepressants were being prescribed and exactly what his prescription history was.

The link between antidepressants and suicide is not well understood, but in some cases there is a clear linkage – perhaps a change of medication was involved or even just a change in dosage.

Coroners and medical examiners should routinely be examining medical records and making details public so important information is not missed.

Because of Tony Scott’s fame we have the chance to talk about this now – and we should be doing all we can in order to understand why he took his own life.

My thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.

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The life and death of a celebrity lawyer

I don’t know anything about Prozac and alcohol – however, I do know about Seroxat and the way that it can actually make you crave more and more booze. Couple this with the inhibition that comes with SSRI treatment and you’ve got a recipe for real disaster:

On the evening of Tuesday 6 May, Mark Saunders should have been having dinner with the television presenter Chris Tarrant, the latest high-profile client for whom the high-flying barrister had handled a divorce case.

Instead the Oxford law graduate was holed up in his £2.2m townhouse, in a five-hour armed siege that would end in his death.

Asked the question as to whether the police were correct to open fire on Saunders, the inquest jury yesterday answered yes. The unanswered question was what had made Mark Saunders, a 32-year-old family law barrister earning about £500,000 a year, act the way he did?

It seems Mark Saunders had a longstanding drink problem which he had been trying to control for a number of years. According to his wife “What Mark wanted to do was control the drinking, to be able to be a social drinker. There were occasions, probably every three months or so, when it went wrong.” She said that he would be ashamed at having lapsed and would to avoid her for a few hours, then send an apologetic text. Eventually he was prescribed Prozac to “even out his moods”, but she had no idea that he had begun to use cocaine heavily.

I can’t help but wonder why a doctor would prescribe an SSRI such as Prozac to a man who was already drinking heavily… in my experience with another SSSRI, Seroxat, that would be like pouring petrol on a fire.

Add in cocaine, coupled with a craving for more alcohol and an extreme lack of inhibition from the SSRI treatment and you have a suicide just waiting to happen and I think there can be no question Mark Saunders committed suicide.

The full story is here.

What made Raoul Moat do it…

Of course, we will never know what made Moat do it – but there are some pieces of the complex jigsaw coming to light now.

In my previous post (link) I wrote that the sister of one of Moat’s victims had said in a newspaper interview last week that “Moat had “flipped out” after being denied his regular antidepressants and steroids in prison.

Since that post I have been emailed by Mark G (many thanks) who has read the whole of Moat’s 49 page letter to the Police… and he points out this very important extract:

“I’ve slept 1 hour per night for three weeks now and am chomping my jaw like I’m on extacy [sic]. I thought it was the medication, but I’ve been off since I came out. It feels like I’m watching a film, not real at all.”

So – what do we know?

We know that Moat was on antidepressants.

We know that he experienced problems (“flipped out”) when denied his anti depressants.

We also now know that he had been off his “medication” since he left jail.

The rest is history.

I would suggest Moat was very probably suffering from severe SSRI withdrawal, having stopped his medication abruptly – and yes, I am making the presumption that the “medication” he wrote about was an SSRI…

But of course we will find out exactly what he had been taking as part of the detailed police investigation into this tragic case – won’t we?

We need to know more – we need to know the truth. Potentially, this has wide ranging implications for the treatment of millions of patients in the UK alone.

And we need to know what kind of doctor simply denies a patient his “regular antidepressants” while in prison? That surely is recipe for disaster.

WHEN ARE THE AUTHORITIES GOING TO TAKE NOTE AND INVESTIGATE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN EXTREME BEHAVIOUR, VIOLENCE AND ANTIDEPRESSANTS?

WHEN?

“…I thought it was the medication, but I’ve been off it since I came out…”

More background here and here and also at SSRI Stories.

Sara Carlin – death by Paxil

I came across the above named video, ‘Sara Carlin – death by Paxil’, on Bob Fiddaman’s website Seroxat Sufferers.

Bob has been following the inquest into the death of Sara Carlin. Yesterday the jury returned its findings.

In a  phone conversation between Neil Carlin (Sara’s father) and Bob, Neil explained that both he and his wife “…are extremely pleased with the outcome of the inquest into our beloved Sara’s Paxil related suicide with the recommendations that the jury have given in their verdict.” He added, “The jury were under very strict restraints in their ability to name or blame any party in this inquest, including the three doctors from Oakville Ontario Canada – and the drug company GlaxoSmithKline – maker of the SSRI antidepressant Paxil.”

Neil went on, “We feel that through the breadth & depth of their 16 recommendations, the jury has carefully listened to the evidence they have heard over these past several weeks & through the quality of those recommendations have identified the root cause of Sara’s death. It is our belief if these recommendations are implemented & followed in the future, that they will surely avoid the tragic waste of young life as occurred in our Sara’s case.”

I suggest you read the rest of the post here.

And here are links to more detail on the story:

Sara Carlin Inquest – Latest

Sara Carlin Inquest – Failure of Oakville Medical Profession

Sara Carlin – ‘Death by Paxil’ Inquest – The ‘Expert’

Sara Carlin Inquest – Coroner’s Witness In U-Turn… And That Man Shaffer!

SARA CARLIN Ontario, Canada

Coroner’s Inquest – Glaxo & Friends Vs The Carlin Family

Sara Carlin Inquest – Local MP Slams GlaxoSmithKline

SARA CARLIN PAXIL INQUEST VIDEO FOOTAGE

SARA CARLIN PAXIL INQUEST GLOBAL TV NEWS

SARA CARLIN INQUEST – What The Jury Should Know

Sara Carlin Inquest – “Paxil likely played important role in teen’s suicide”

Sara Carlin Inquest – The Eli Lilly ‘Links’ & Today’s Recommendations.

**Exclusive – Sara Carlin Inquest: The Bias Of Coroner’s Counsel, Michael Blain & Coroner, Bert Lauwers?

Sara Carlin Inquest – We Know How, Now Tell us Why!

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.


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)

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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