Researchers examining the validity of the black box warning on antidepressants have concluded that the warning of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in children and young adults is clearly justified.
The best evidence available from clinical trials “demonstrated increased risk of suicidality adverse events among youth taking antidepressants,” according to researchers from universities in the United States and Australia, whose findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.
The researchers also examined critics’ claims that the black-box warning led to fewer prescriptions for antidepressants and, as a result, higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts.
Instead, researchers found that the rise in suicidal behavior in children and young adults occurred while prescriptions for antidepressants also increased.
“More recent data suggest that increasing antidepressant prescriptions are related to more youth suicide attempts and more completed suicides among American children and adolescents,” the researchers wrote.
“The black box warning is firmly rooted in solid data, whereas attempts to claim the warning has caused harm are based on quite weak evidence,” they concluded.
A black box warning on a drug label is one of the FDA’s strongest warnings, reserved for drugs that carry significant risk of serious or fatal side effects.
The black box warning on antidepressants was first required by the FDA in 2004 to warn of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in children and adolescents. The warning was expanded in 2007 to include young adults.
“When a clear body of evidence points to increased treatment-linked risk, patients and healthcare providers should be made aware of these risks,” the researchers wrote, noting their duty to warn.
WARNING:Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from antidepressants, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
A Cody psychiatrist specializing in addiction treatment is facing a charge of felony aggravated assault with a vehicle for a head-on collision allegedly caused by his inhaling an intoxicating substance while driving.
Matthew V. Hopkins allegedly inhaled chemical fumes from a cleaning product while driving, passed out and crashed head-on into another vehicle. The passenger in the other vehicle was hospitalized.
In addition to the felony charge, Hopkins is charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance and unlawful use of a toxic substance.
Hopkins is also facing a prior charge of driving under the influence, after allegedly hitting a parked vehicle while drunk five months earlier. Other charges in that incident include having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and leaving the scene of a crash.
Hopkins is a psychiatrist in private practice in Cody. His listing in the Wyoming Medical Board physician directory shows addiction psychiatry as one of his specialties. His website for his practice highlights his experience in addiction psychiatry.
Hopkins’ history of substance abuse goes back more than a decade. His medical license was suspended in New Hampshire in 2003 for an alcohol problem and for writing fake prescriptions for Adderall for himself. He entered a recovery program.
After moving to Wyoming, he agreed in 2009 to continue in a similar program. Two findings of noncompliance in 2011 led, first, to a stayed six-month suspension of his license in July that year, and then a six-month suspension that November, according to data on the Wyoming Medical Board’s disciplinary action list. In 2015, the Medical Board granted Hopkins’ petition to remove all restrictions and conditions related to his medical license.
If you know of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health worker with a substance abuse problem, we want to talk with you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
Fact: At least 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking orwithdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 169 wounded and 79 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs). The most important fact about this list, is that these are only cases where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public. (See full list below)
Tallahassee, Florida – November 20, 2014: 31-year-old Myron May, a Florida State University alum, opened fire in the school’s library, wounding three before he was shot and killed by police. ABC Action News found a half-filled prescription for the antianxiety drug Hydroxyzine in his apartment after the shooting. In addition, according to May’s friends, he had seen a psychologist and had been prescribed the antidepressant Wellbutrin and the ADHD drug Vyvanse. He also checked himself in to a mental health center called Mesilla Valley Hospital around September of 2014. Shortly after this, his friends discovered the antipsychotic Seroquel among his prescriptions.
Seattle, Washington – June 5, 2014: 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra opened fire with a shotgun at Seattle Pacific University, killing one student and wounding two others. Ybarra planned to kill as many people as possible and then kill himself. In 2012, Ybarra reported that he had been prescribed the antidepressant Prozac and antipsychotic Risperdal. A report from his counselor in December of 2013 said that he was taking Prozac at the time and planned to continue to meet with his psychiatrist and therapist as needed.
Milford, Connecticut – April 25, 2014: 16-year-old Chris Plaskon stabbed Maren Sanchez, also 16, to death in a stairwell at Jonathan Law High School after she turned down his prom invitation. According to classmates and a former close friend, Chris was taking drugs for ADHD.
Sparks, Nevada – October 21, 2013: 12-year-old Jose Reyes opened fire at Sparks Middle School, killing a teacher and wounding two classmates before committing suicide. The investigation revealed that he had been seeing a psychiatrist and had a generic version of Prozac (fluoxetine) in his system at the time of death.
St. Louis, Missouri – January 15, 2013: 34-year-old Sean Johnson walked onto the Stevens Institute of Business & Arts campus and shot the school’s financial aid director once in the chest, then shot himself in the torso. Johnson had been taking prescribed drugs for an undisclosed mental illness.
Snohomish County, Washington – October 24, 2011: A 15-year-old girl went to Snohomish High School where police alleged that she stabbed a girl as many as 25 times just before the start of school, and then stabbed another girl who tried to help her injured friend. Prior to the attack the girl had been taking “medication” and seeing a psychiatrist. Court documents said the girl was being treated for depression.
Planoise, France – December 13, 2010: A 17-year-old youth held twenty pre-school children and their teacher hostage for hours at Charles Fourier preschool. The teen was reported to be on “medication for depression”. He took a classroom hostage with two swords. Eventually, all the children and the teacher were released safely.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – September 21, 2011: 14-year-old Christian Helms had two pipe bombs in his backpack, when he shot and wounded Socastee High School’s “resource” (police) officer. However the officer was able to stop the student before he could do anything further. Helms had been taking drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.
Huntsville, Alabama – February 5, 2010: 15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed another Discover Middle School student Todd Brown. Memon had a history for being treated for ADHD and depression. He was taking the antidepressant Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.” He had been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist.
Kauhajoki, Finland – September 23, 2008: 22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine. He was also seeing a psychologist.
Fresno, California – April 24, 2008: 17-year-old Jesus “Jesse” Carrizales attacked the Fresno high school’s officer, hitting him in the head with a baseball bat. After knocking the officer down, the officer shot Carrizales in self-defense, killing him. Carrizales had been prescribed Lexapro and Geodon, and his autopsy showed that he had a high dose of the antidepressant Lexapro in his blood that could have caused him to be paranoid, according to the coroner.
Dekalb, Illinois – February 14, 2008: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amount of Xanax in his system. He had been seeing a psychiatrist.
Jokela, Finland – November 7, 2007: 18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School in southern Finland, then committed suicide.
Texas – November 7, 2007: 17-year-old Felicia McMillan returned to her former Robert E. Lee High School campus and stabbed a male student and wounded the principle with a knife. McMillan had been on drugs for depression, and had just taken them the night before the incident.
Cleveland, Ohio – October 10, 2007: 14-year-old Asa Coon stormed through his school with a gun in each hand, shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon had been placed on the antidepressant Trazodone.
Sudbury, Massachusetts – January 19, 2007: 16-year-old John Odgren stabbed another student with a large kitchen knife in a boy’s bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. In court his father testified that Odgren was prescribed the drug Ritalin.
North Vernon, Indiana – December 4, 2006: 16-year-old Travis Roberson stabbed another Jennings County High School student in the neck, nearly severing an artery. Roberson was in withdrawal from Wellbutrin, which he had stopped taking days before the attack.
Hillsborough, North Carolina – August 30, 2006: 19-year-old Alvaro Rafael Castillo shot and killed his father, then drove to Orange High School where he opened fire. Two students were injured in the shooting, which ended when school personnel tackled him. His mother said he was on drugs for depression.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina – April 2006: 17-year-old William Barrett Foster took a shotgun to school and took a teacher and a fellow student hostage at East Chapel Hill High School. After being talked out of shooting the hostages, Foster fired two shots through a classroom window before fleeing the school on foot. Foster’s father testified that his son had stopped taking his antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs without telling him.
Red Lake, Minnesota – March 21, 2005: 16-year-old Jeff Weise, on Prozac, shot and killed his grandparents, then went to his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation where he shot dead 5 students, a security guard, and a teacher, and wounded 7 before killing himself.
Greenbush, New York – February 2004: 16-year-old Jon Romano strolled into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Special education teacher Michael Bennett was hit in the leg. Romano had been taking “medication for depression”. He had previously seen a psychiatrist.
Red Lion, Pennsylvania – February 2, 2001: 56-year-old William Michael Stankewicz entered North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School with a machete, leaving three adults and 11 children injured. Stankewicz was taking four different drugs for depression and anxiety weeks before the attacks.
Ikeda, Japan – June 8, 2001: 37-year-old Mamoru Takuma, wielding a 6-inch knife, slipped into an elementary school and stabbed eight first- and second-graders to death while wounding at least 15 other pupils and teachers. He then turned the knife on himself but suffered only superficial wounds. He later told interrogators that before the attack he had taken 10 times his normal dose of antidepressants.
Wahluke, Washington – April 10, 2001: Sixteen-year-old Cory Baadsgaard took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage. He had been taking the antidepressant Effexor.
El Cajon, California – March 22, 2001: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, opened fire on his classmates, wounding three students and two teachers at Granite Hills High School. He had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.
Williamsport, Pennsylvania – March 7, 2001: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.
Oxnard, California – January 2001: 17-year-old Richard Lopez went to Hueneme High School with a gun and shot twice at a car in the school’s parking lot before taking a female student hostage. Lopez was eventually killed by a SWAT officer. He had been prescribed Prozac, Paxil and “drugs that helped him go to sleep.”
Conyers, Georgia – May 20, 1999: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with the stimulant Ritalin when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.
Columbine, Colorado – April 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s medical records remain sealed. Both shooters had been in anger-management classes and had undergone counseling. Harris had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting.
Notus, Idaho – April 16, 1999: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students. He was taking a prescribed antidepressant and Ritalin.
Springfield, Oregon – May 21, 1998: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 25. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac. Kinkel had been attending “anger control classes” and was under the care of a psychologist.
Blackville, South Carolina – October 12, 1995: 15-year-old Toby R. Sincino slipped into the Blackville-Hilda High School’s rear entrance, where he shot two Blackville-Hilda High School teachers, killing one. Then Toby killed himself moments later. His aunt, Carolyn McCreary, said he had been undergoing counseling with the Department of Mental Health and was taking Zoloft for emotional problems.
Chelsea, Michigan – December 17, 1993: 39-year-old chemistry teacher Stephen Leith, facing a disciplinary matter at Chelsea High School, shot Superintendent Joseph Piasecki to death, shot Principal Ron Mead in the leg, and slightly wounded journalism teacher Phil Jones. Leith was taking Prozac and had been seeing a psychiatrist.
Houston, Texas – September 18, 1992: 44-year-old Calvin Charles Bell, reportedly upset about his second-grader’s progress report, appeared in the principal’s office of Piney Point Elementary School. Bell fired a gun in the school, and eventually wounded two officers before surrendering. Relatives told police on Friday that Bell was an unemployed Vietnam veteran and had been taking anti-depressants.
Winnetka, Illinois – 20 May 1988: 30-year-old Laurie Wasserman Dann walked into a second grade classroom at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, Illinois carrying three pistols and began shooting children, killing an eight-year-old boy, and wounding five others before fleeing. She entered a nearby house where she shot and wounded a 20-year-old man before killing herself. Dann had been seeing a psychiatrist and subsequent blood tests revealed that at the time of the killings, she was taking the antidepressant Anafranil.
That’s what mainstream press such as the LA Times and Reuters are reporting, based on a new study published in a respected medical journal, PLOS Medicine, which found young adults between the ages of 15-24, were nearly fifty percent more likely to be convicted of a homicide, assault, robbery arson, kidnapping, sexual offense and other violent crime when taking the antidepressant than when they weren’t taking the psychiatric drug.
To have heavy-hitters like the Los Angeles Times cover the issue is precedent setting, as the link between psychiatric drugs and violence has long been ignored by mainstream press. But the fact that antidepressants cause violence isn’t a new revelation as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has been at the forefront of exposing this connection for nearly two decades.
CCHR’s efforts to expose the link between violence and antidepressants goes back to 1991 when CCHR helped organize hearings before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where victims and experts gathered to testify that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) cause not only suicide but violence, including homicide.
The testimony by parents, about the violent self-inflicted deaths of their young children, was gut-wrenching. Yet, despite overwhelming data provided by experts, and the first-hand accounts of suicide and violence caused by antidepressants, the FDA Advisory Committee, many of which had financial conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical companies, refused to warn the public of the link between suicide and antidepressants, and did not provide any consideration of whether the antidepressants may be responsible for other violent behavior.
But, as was expected, increasing numbers of suicides and other violent acts continued to add up and, finally, more than a decade later, in 2004, the FDA was, again, forced to address the issue. This time, though, the data provided by whistleblowers within the industry could not be shrugged off and more than a decade after the federal agency first knew of the deadly consequences associated with SSRIs, a “black box” warning for suicidal ideation and behavior finally was issued on all antidepressants. Yet the connection to violence and homicide continued to be ignored. To this day, despite 22 warnings on psychiatric drugs causing violence from international drug regulatory agencies, and despite the fact that t least 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 169 wounded and 79 killed, the FDA has never issued black box warnings on antidepressant drugs causing violence.
For nearly two decades, CCHR has taken the lead on calling for toxicology reports of school shooters to be made public so psychiatric drug information may be collected and identified as a possible cause of the violent behavior. It is CCHR that has provided numerous white papers to lawmakers, both at the state and federal level and, for decades, CCHR has met with Congressional lawmakers, exposing the link between violence and school shooters and other acts of mass violence.
This latest study, linking violence and antidepressants, only serves to support decades of CCHR’s research and efforts to elicit action by those in a position to make a difference. To date, 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs and, between 2004 and 2012, there have been nearly 15,000 reports to the FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects.
This is all important information that CCHR has been providing the public, media and lawmakers for decades—psychiatric drugs are ineffective and cause violent behavior. On the upside, though, given the media’s apparent new willingness to report on the dangers associated with psychiatric drugs and pharmaceutical fraud, there’s no telling how quickly the story could turn to the real issue… the fraud of psychiatric diagnosing. CCHR already has it covered.
Kelly Patricia O’Meara is an award-winning former investigative reporter for the Washington Times’ Insight Magazine, penning dozens of articles exposing the fraud of psychiatric diagnosis and the dangers of the psychiatric drugs—including her ground-breaking 1999 cover story, “Guns & Doses,” exposing the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills that Kill. Prior to working as an investigative journalist, O’Meara spent sixteen years on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer to four Members of Congress. She holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Maryland.
U.S. Senator Requests List in Probe of Rising Medicaid Costs
Wyoming’s top 10 Medicaid prescribers of drugs at the center of a U.S. senator’s probe into fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid system wrote prescriptions on six antipsychotic drugs totaling $5 million in 2008 and 2009.
The Wyoming Department of Health compiled the data in response to a request from U.S. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicaid and Medicare.
In April the senator requested 2008 and 2009 data from all 50 state Medicaid agencies on the top 10 Medicaid prescribers for each of six antipsychotic and two narcotic drugs in an effort to identify “outlier” doctors who have prescribed certain drugs in much greater quantities than other doctors.
“The overutilization of prescription drugs, whether through drug abuse or outright fraud, plays a significant role in the rising cost of our health care system,” Grassley wrote.
The most glaring example, cited by Grassley in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, was a Florida doctor who wrote 96,685 prescriptions for psychiatric drugs in 21 months, with the cost billed to the state’s Medicaid program.
Because Wyoming’s top Medicaid antipsychotic prescribers are not identified by name in the Department of Health data, it is not possible to track any financial ties they might have with the pharmaceutical companies that make these drugs. Such ties could lead to a higher use of the drugs and a higher cost to the Medicaid program without benefiting patients.