Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Can New Zealand's Mental Health System Be Detrimental to Your Health?

If drugging patients does not prevent suicide then why drug them in the first place?

The percentages have been worked out, the drugs have been totted up, the diagnosis', the mixture of medications prescribed have all been collated and the results are shocking...truly shocking.

New Zealand has a suicide problem, it's government hire professionals, known as suicidologists, to help solve the problem. Truth is, they haven't solved anything. Truth is they don't know how to put a stop to the alarming number of suicides in New Zealand.

One particular 'expert' hired in the past by the NZ government was Annette Beautrais, she co-authored a paper suggesting that the horse tranquilizer, Ketamine, could prevent suicide.

She, along with other authors, claimed that giving the horse tranquilizer, ketamine, to patients admitted into Emergency Departments for suicidality caused depression and suicidal thoughts to miraculously disappear within 40 minutes. The study ran for just 4 hours, featured just 14 subjects, had no comparator, no placebo, had the subjects on a range of other drugs and involved in therapy but did not assess the role these played in the results and was open label [patients and doctors knew what the drug was]. Back story here.

Beautrais was, for 20 years, the Principal Investigator with the Canterbury Suicide Project at the University of Otago, Christchurch. The project, established in 1991, ended when Beautrais took umbrage, it appears, because she had been turned down for funding from the NZ government. Hardly surprising given the lack of results she was achieving as the government's key adviser on suicide prevention but something she decided was a personal attack on her. Beautrais, an American, left New Zealand and headed back home.

The New Zealand government plow money into a mental health system, designed to filter more people through the doors of district health boards [DHB's] - They think medication is the way forward, they think these drugs will actually prevent people from killing themselves.

They haven't even bothered looking at the statistics, the actual suicides that occurred between 2007-2010 . Patients, whilst under the care of NZ's DHB's, have been medicated, in many instances on cocktails of mind altering drugs, in many cases drugs that have interacted with one another, rendering them ineffective or worse still highly dangerous.

Coroners in NZ will be alarmed at the latest research, they may ask themselves "where did we go wrong?", "How could we have been so blind?" - All they had to do was get to the information held by NZ's DHB's, they didn't and that's what alarms me most.

Spinz, New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy, have been struggling for years to come up with answers, again they had the power to investigate matters, they chose not to.

The figures, gained by myself under the Official Information Act, will shock. They will, hopefully, make the NZ public angry, they will, hopefully, shame the NZ government and the NZ mental health system.

Any family member left destroyed by the suicide of a loved one under the care of a DHB in NZ may also find the figures alarming, they may also start asking their own questions.

The title of this post is, "Can New Zealand's Mental Health System Be Detrimental to Your Health?" - Figures gained certainly show that there is a huge problem with regard to the way the mental health system thinks medication is the answer.


So, the figures have been collected, the suicides under the care of DHB's are jaw-dropping, the over medicating of some patients has been akin to abuse and woeful neglect.. but still patients are pushed through the system, medicated because nobody even bothered to check to see if the medication was the answer - it clearly wasn't as statistics will prove.

  • Patients given powerful psychiatric medication without having an actual diagnosis recorded went on to kill themselves.
  • Adolescents prescribed drugs off-label went on to kill themselves.
  • Patients given cocktails of psychiatric medications that went on to kill themselves... because nobody bothered to check whether or not it was safe to mix these medications.
  • 87% of patients were on psychiatric medication at the time and/or 6 months prior to their suicide.
  • No adverse reactions were reported by any member of DHB staff

But hey, the majority of these patients had mental disorders, right? So they would have gone on to kill themselves in any case. That's mere speculation. If DHB's staff base their assessments on speculation then we have a system that is in a complete mess - they certainly speculated that not one of these suicides warranted further investigation by CARM [Centre for Adverse Reaction Monitoring]. That's unprofessional and does nothing to highlight the dangers of these types of medications.

Here's a teaser from information gained:

Children 0 – 19 years

13 children between the ages of 0-19  had died from suicide while having a current or recent (within 6 months) prescription for medication:

DHB: Bay of Plenty
Patient Age: 17
Diagnosis: Eating Disorder, Depression, Suicidal Ideation
Medications: Fluoxetine, Quetiapine, Omeprazole, Minocycline, Osteo500, Cholecalciferol, Multivitamins, Thiamine

DHB: Canterbury
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Psychosis, early onset of Schizophrenia
Medications: Clozapine, Omeprazole, Moclomebide

DHB: Capital & Coast
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Episode
Medications: Citalopram, Zopiclone, Doxycycline

DHB: Capital & Coast
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Paranoid schizophrenia
Medications: Risperdal

DHB: Capital & Coast
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]
Medications: Citalopram, Quetiapine, Thyroxine, Clonazepam, Zopiclone

DHB: Nelson Marlborough
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depression
Medications: Quetiapine, Citalopram, Lorazepam

DHB: Nelson Marlborough
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Major depression, Mental and behavioural disorder due to cannabis use, dependence syndrome, Social phobia
Medications: Venlafaxine, Quetiapine

DHB: Tairawhiti
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: No diagnosis
Medications: Citalopram

DHB: Tairawhiti
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Schizophrenia - disorganised type
Medications: Aripiprazole

DHB: Waitemata
Patient Age: 17
Diagnosis: No diagnosis
Medications: Fluoxetine

DHB: Waitemata
Patient Age: 17
Diagnosis: Schizophrenia - paranoid type, PTSD
Medications: Terazosin, Zopiclone, Fluoxetine, Clozapine, Lorazepam

DHB: Waitemata
Patient Age: 15
Diagnosis: No diagnosis
Medications: Citalopram

DHB: Whanganui
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD
Medications: Mirtazapine, Temazepam

The minute a patient is prescribed an antidepressant type medication they are deemed mentally ill, they have, we are told, an illness of the brain, a chemical imbalance. The chemical imbalance theory is just that, a theory. It has been debunked time and time again yet medical professionals still continue to prescribe first and ask questions later. Latest research suggests that professionals prescribe antidepressant type medication because they fear a backlash from coroners should a patient under their care kill themselves. So, in essence, the prescribing physician is looking after his/her own welfare rather than the welfare of the patient, right?

In an article published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Professor Roger Mulder, head of psychological medicine at Otago University, writes, "the situation has created a mythology with no evidence to support it, a sense of unease among clinicians and a culture of blame when things go wrong".

Mulder said he now believed traditional psychiatric models of suicide prediction and prevention were not working.

Adding, "Very few psychiatric interventions have been shown to reduce the incidence of suicide" .

Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, said Mulder's article was thought-provoking and "worthy of consideration by all working in this troublesome area".

Will the NZ government think the same, will SPINZ or the DHB's of New Zealand think Mulder's article is worthy of consideration or will they continue to blindly prescribe medications that are known to increase suicide?

If drugging patients does not prevent suicide then why drug them in the first place?

But the DHB's have never said that psychiatric medication prevents suicide, maybe so but they've never come out publicly and said that an alarming number of people on these drugs have gone on to complete suicide whilst under their care. Quite why they have never raised alarms baffles me. The information collected will also show that not one single staff member of any DHB in New Zealand saw fit to report suicide as an adverse reaction - One has to ask why?

The NZ media have, it seems, been duped too. Any story regarding suicide appearing in newspapers is always followed by helplines:

Youth Services
Depression Helpline

All of which are run by mental health services.

It's a guideline they have to follow because the NZ government said so.

Only recently have the media started adding CASPER, a suicide charity set up by Maria Bradshaw, a charity that takes no government money, a charity that never turns callers to mental health.

One look at the statistics and you can see why CASPER tend to talk rather than refer to mental health.

The findings will be released soon. They have been in my possession for a while, it is now just a matter of writing up a paper with Maria Bradshaw and then submitting that paper to a medical journal.

This is not just two people gathering information and coming up with figures plucked from the air. These are official figures never seen before. Figures that have been carefully scrutinized by both myself , Bradshaw and a scientific adviser.

If Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, thinks Mulder's article was thought-provoking then he may just think the findings from the suicides under the care of NZ DHB's may just warrant a full inquiry into the safety and efficacy of these medications, it may also change Coroners views that antidepressant type medications do not cause a person to take their own life.

In fact, the first question a Coroner should ask when dealing with suicides at inquests is, was this patient on medication at the time of his/her death? They then will have a much clearer path to the truth. They will then give a voice to the deceased... to protect the living.

In truth, the NZ government already know about the suicide link to antidepressant type medication. They've turned a blind eye to the admittance of Mylan Pharmaceuticals assessment of a patient who suicided whilst on one of their products, that product was Fluox, more commonly known as Prozac. Both Mylan Pharmaceuticals and the New Zealand drug regulator Medsafe, concluded that the probable cause of Toran Henry's death was the Fluox he was taking. The rating of ‘probable’ includes an assessment that Toran’s suicide was ‘unlikely to be attributed to disease or other drugs.’. The assessment came about because Toran's mother filed an adverse reaction report, something the New Zealand DHB's failed to do for the patients who suicided whilst under their care [More on Mylan's admission here]

Did Mylan change the labelling after their findings?

Did Medsafe issue warnings to the medical profession after their findings?

A resounding NO to both questions.

Were they legally obliged to? Were they morally obliged to? [See SSRi's - Changes to the Labeling]

Will the NZ government and Medsafe do nothing when they learn that 87% of patients were receiving medication when they suicided under the care of mental health between the years 2007-2010?

Moreover, will the DHB's be hauled over the coals for not filing adverse reaction reports?

That remains to be seen.

Given the recent news that suicide costs NZ businesses $1.6 billion it could be suggested that the NZ mental health approach is not only not working, it's making matters worse on a human and economic level.

The DHB findings will be made public sometime in the near future.

I'll leave the last words to Irish psychiatrist, Patricia Casey, whom I doubt will believe anything put in front of her that alters her blinkered views about antidepressants.

Bob Fiddaman