There is NO Suicide Epidemic in Colorado

Data being misused to alarm the public is consistent with marketing programs of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry

Data recently released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show that the trend in suicides in the state in effect has been statistically flat for at least 22 years.  There are wide fluctuations from year to year in the rate of suicides per 100,000 population, but all within a long-term, essentially unchanged trend, as the chart below of the data illustrates.  There isno suicide epidemic in Colorado.

Particularly false is the claim of a supposed epidemic of suicides among young people.  The fact is that suicide is very rare among children.  While the death of any child is tragic, statewide there were just 11 suicides last year in an estimated population of 1,040,402 children through age 14, for a rate of 1.1 suicide per 100,000 in 2009 – almost exactly the same rate as the 20-year average rate for this age group of 1.0.  The facts show there is no suicide epidemic among younger children.

Concerning teenage suicides, the statistic currently making headlines is that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in Colorado.  But this is only because there are very few teenage deaths for any reason.  While the death of any child is tragic, the fact is that there were 49 suicides last year in an estimated population of 362,423 teens ages 15 through 19 statewide, for a rate of 13.5 suicides per 100,000 population in 2009 – almost exactly the same rate as the 20-year average rate for this age group of 13.1.  The facts show that suicides are not spreading more rapidly or extensively among teenagers.  There is no suicide epidemic.

At a minimum, these statistics stand as testament to the monumental failure of psychiatry to lower the suicide rate after decades of prescribing antidepressants in Colorado – to the point that antidepressant residues are measurable in our waterways.

More alarming is the fact that psychiatric drugging is leading to suicides.  An estimated 50% of all Americans who commit suicide are on psychiatric drugs.

Antidepressants are known to cause worsening depression, birth defects, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, panic attacks, hostility, aggression, psychosis, violence, suicide and many, many other adverse events.  Long-term antidepressant users frequently report that their emotions have been deadened so much that they feel like zombies.

The dangers of antidepressants have led the FDA and regulatory authorities around the word to issue warnings concerning their use, including the FDA’s most severe, “black box” warning.

International warnings & studies on psychiatric drugs can be found through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International’s psychiatric drug search engine.

Adverse psychiatric drug reactions reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Medwatch can be searched here.

Despite the fact that the suicide rate for teenagers in Colorado has been essentially unchanged for at least 20 years, “suicide as the second-leading cause of death among teenagers” is being used to gain sympathy and support from the public, school administrators, physicians, public officials, and state legislators for requiring children to be screened for depression in the name of suicide prevention.

The screening surveys used, however, consider the normal variations in human behavior as symptoms of mental illness.  In particular, teenagers, with their wide range of behavior, are found to have “mental disorders” in high numbers.  This is because screening that targets teenagers, such as TeenScreen, asks questions that could be answered “Yes” by almost any normal teenager, such as:

  • Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just weren’t interested in anything?
  • Has there been a time when you felt you couldn’t do anything well or that you weren’t as good-looking or as smart as other people?
  • How often did your parents get annoyed or upset with you because of the way you were feeling or acting?
  • Have you often felt very nervous when you’ve had to do things in front of people?
  • Have you often worried a lot before you were going to play a sport or game or do some other activity?

A pilot program using TeenScreen should serve as a chilling warning to Coloradoans about what it means when teenagers are screened for depression.  During 2001-03, TeenScreen was used on teenagers at a Denver public high school and a Denver homeless shelter.  The results, unabashedly published at the time on the website of the Mental Health Association of Colorado (now Mental Health America of Colorado), are shocking to anyone – except apparently those with ties in with the psychiatric industry:

  • Half (50%) of the screened high school students were found to be at risk of suicide!
  • Nearly three out of four youths (71%) screened at the homeless shelter were found to have psychiatric disorders!

Clearly these screening surveys are identifying all sorts of young people as “mentally ill” when they are not.  Even the developer of the TeenScreen survey, psychiatrist David Shaffer, who has been the recipient of huge dollars from pharmaceutical companies (see “TeenScreen, A Front Group for the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex”), himself admits that TeenScreen “does identify a whole bunch of kids who aren’t really suicidal, so you get a lot of false-positives. And that means if you’re running a large program at a school, you’re going to cripple the program because you’re going to have too many kids you have to do something about.”

And what happens when the screening identifies so many children “you have to do something about?”  It means a bonanza for the pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatrists who make a living from psychiatric drugging.  Young people with their wide range of childhood behavior, or with behavioral symptoms caused by any number of underlying, often undiagnosed physicalillnesses or abnormalities, will be labeled with “mental disorders” that follow them through life.

They will likely get referred to a psychiatrist, who will in all probability prescribe powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs, with their long lists of harmful and even life-threatening side effects.  The results of a survey published several years ago in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that 9 out of 10 children who see a psychiatrist will be prescribed psychiatric drugs.

The facts show that there is no epidemic of suicides in Colorado.  So who is behind the hysteria being whipped up in the state over suicides?   Pharmaceutical companies have three steps in their marketing programs, the first of which is to elevate the importance of a condition, making it appear far more serious & widespread than previously thought.  This first step is well underway in Colorado, forwarded by psychiatrists and psychiatric-industry front groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), using disinformation about a nonexistent “epidemic of suicides” supposedly sweeping the state.

The story of the unholy alliance between psychiatry and the drug companies, with the slick marketing schemes and scientific deceit that have created an $80 billion profit center, has been documented in “The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane?”, a multi-award-winning documentary film produced by CCHR International.  To order your free copy of the DVD, click here.

If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been harmed by a psychiatrist or other mental-health worker and you want to talk about it, we want to talk to you.  Email us or call 303-789-5225. All inquiries and communication will be handled in strictest confidence. We will take action.

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Diet is Strongly Associated with the Risk of Depression

A team of researchers from England and France found that dietary patterns over a five-year period had a significant effect on the risk of feeling depressed.  People eating a predominantly natural-foods diet of mostly vegetables, fruits, fish, and whole grains were one-fourth less likely to have depression.  Those eating mainly processed foods, including processed meats, refined grains, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, and sweetened desserts were more than 50 percent more likely to feel depressed.  The natural-foods diet is richer in vitamins, minerals, and good fats that help maintain healthy moods.  (Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ, Ferrie JE, et al.  Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age.  British Journal of Psychiatry, 2009;195:408-413)

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Increased Blood Clot Risk with Antipsychotic Drugs

Scientists in the UK believe that antipsychotic drugs raise the risks of dangerous blood clots

This risk had already been spotted by some scientists and seems now to be confirmed by a new study. Almost 16,000 people suffered a deep vein thrombosis (formation of a blood clot in a deep vein) and 9,000 people suffered a clot in the lung.

Study subjects taking newer “atypical” antipsychotics had a 73% higher chance of developing a clot, reports BBC News.

Other studies have already revealed a higher stroke risk among patients taking antipsychotics.

For more information on psychiatric drugs, visit CCHR’s Psychiatric Drug Side Effects search engine.

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Antidepressants Have Been Found Contaminating Fish in Boulder

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado have found antidepressants, like Prozac, accumulating in the brains of fish near Boulder’s wastewater treatment plant, causing the reactions of the fish and their response to predators to slow down, according to the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_16037537.

Fish act as an early warning system for the presence of contaminants in water supplies. Studies have already documented the disruption to the reproductive systems of fish from contaminants finding their way into Colorado waterways.

In a recent article in The Durango Herald about personal care and pharmaceutical products in our water, Mike Meschke, environmental health director for the San Juan Basin Health Department, says, “Many of these compounds are not biodegradable and persist in our rivers and streams because they pass through treatment plants.” The chemicals may produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects in humans and wildlife. “We’re rolling the dice,” according to Meschke, “We’re playing with an environmental cocktail in our water.”http://www.durangoherald.com/sections/Features/.

With concern growing over the potential danger to humans, wildlife and the environment, Colorado and federal authorities have ramped up efforts to test state rivers and reservoirs.

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Man Died in Restraints at Colorado State Psychiatric Hospital

CMHIP withholds data requested by the district attorney and county coroner

An obese man who died in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) suffocated while being restrained face down on a table. He may have been hog-tied.

Troy Allen Geske, 41, died August 10 at the psychiatric institution. An affidavit for a search warrant says that Geske died after he was put in four-point restraint, in which the feet are attached to the hands behind the back.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the psychiatric facility, denied Geske was in four-point restraint. But Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut said the information in the affidavit is corroborated by evidence that has been collected, including video of Geske in restraints, according to the Pueblo Chieftain:
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_f75a23c2-b72f-11df-9494-001cc4c002e0.html
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_59e5ca9c-b653-11df-8d64-001cc4c002e0.html

At 5-feet-8 and 265 pounds, Geske was at greater risk of “positional asphyxiation” when he was restrained on his stomach with his own weight pressing down on his lungs and diaphragm. Federal law requires constant, close monitoring of anyone face down in restraints to prevent suffocation.

The results of an autopsy and toxicology tests have not yet been released.

After Geske’s death, hospital police could have called in the 10th Judicial District’s critical incident team (CIT) for an independent investigation of the incident by a team of investigators from outside law enforcement agencies, but did not do so, according to the Pueblo Chieftain: http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_b4e5d92e-b7f1-11df-abf2-001cc4c002e0.html

The CIT investigates serious incidents involving police officers under an agreement to which CMHIP is a party. Hospital police were reportedly present when staff attempted to revive Geske.

CMHIP has also refused to turn over certain information requested by investigators. District Attorney Thiebaut says he will go to court if necessary to get information he believes his office is entitled to, according to the Chieftain.

For more than 40 years, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has advocated against any form of psychiatric treatment that is torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading, as laid out in its Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights.

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Another Death at Troubled State Psychiatric Institution in Pueblo

Facility received 1,100 patient complaints in 2008-09, reported 11 patient deaths in 2009

Another person has died while in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP), according to the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15822489. The cause of death of 41-year-old Troy Allen Geske, who died several days ago, will not be known until an autopsy is complete.

His death is being closely followed because of recent revelations of other deaths at the psychiatric facility, including the suicide of Sergio Taylor.  An autopsy report indicated 23-year-old Taylor died of asphyxiation in September 2009 after complaining about conditions at the CMHIP.  He was found by law enforcement officers under blankets with a plastic bag over his head in a supposedly high-security area of the psychiatric facility.  About a month earlier, Taylor and 19 other patients had signed a petition that said, “The sense of hopelessness has set in….  History has shown here…that when patients are feeling bored, hopeless and warehoused, …assault and suicide attempts transpire.”

As a direct result of Taylor’s death and citing concerns that other patients could die, the Colorado Department of Health conducted an immediate investigation of CMHIP in October 2009, according to The Denver Channel (KMGH): http://www.thedenverchannel.com/print/24085289/detail.html. In its report, the health department found patients at the state hospital in Pueblo to be in “immediate jeopardy” and detailed serious errors by the institution’s staff.  The department conducted an unannounced inspection of the facility again this past May.

CALL7 investigators from The Denver Channel, who have been reporting on deaths at the state hospital for months, also uncovered the death of another patient of the CMHIP, whose death was never reported to the state health department by CMHIP.  Josh Garcia died after being overdrugged and neglected by staff at the psychiatric institution.  According to his family, Garcia was given a number of powerful psychiatric drugs and suffered serious adverse effects, including severe abdominal pain.  He complained to the staff but was ignored, according to his family.  By the time Garcia was taken to a hospital, it was too late.  His bowels burst, severe infection set in, and he was brain dead within hours.  His family sued and recently received a settlement from the state over his death.

The Colorado Legislative Audit Committee has also called for repeated investigations of the CMHIP in recent years, due to complaints it receives.  In a report released in December 2009, the Office of the State Auditor found numerous deficiencies in the operations of the CMHIP that compromised safety and proved costly to the state.  Among these deficiencies, the institution did not adequately record, investigate or resolve patient complaints.  For 25 percent of the 1,100 patient complaints relating to staff behavior and quality of treatment issues the facility recorded in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the database did not even contain the names of the 270 staff members who were the subject of the complaints.  The report also revealed that there were 11 patient deaths at the facility last year, the highest number in the three years covered in the report.  How many of those were suicides, besides the suicide of Sergio Taylor, is unknown.  Another audit is underway currently, again at the request of state legislators, to determine if there are other patients who have died of neglect at the state psychiatric hospital.

The CMHIP also has a history of failing to keep the public safe from the mentally ill housed there who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with serious crimes.  Nine such patients escaped in 2009, with patient escapes at a three-year high.

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