The following is a guest post. It was sent to me by Stephanie Lynch, the mother of Jake McGill Lynch who, at the age of 14, took a .22 rifle, placed it in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Jake, at the time, was on a course of medication, the controversial selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRi), Prozac.
I have much to say regarding Stephanie's guest post. My thoughts follow her heartbreaking story.
Prozac Took My Child
On May 2 we should have celebrated our beautiful child's 17th birthday, instead we got to place flowers and balloons on his grave.
Jake McGill Lynch was 14 years old when he took a .22 rifle and placed it in his mouth and pulled the trigger, all the while his dad and I sat downstairs unaware there was a problem.
You see this was not unusual when you are members of a gun club, what was unusual, and is now unfixable, is that Jake took his own life that night. This young child did not suffer from any suicide ideation, nor did he suffer from depression, psychosis, heightened anxiety or any other label that psychiatrists like to place on normal children who are facing exams and going through hormone changes at the same time.
Jake attended our GP first, who saw no problems, he then went to a psychologist were he would visit once a month, sometimes it went 3-4 months without a visit, I thought he could tell her things he did not feel he could tell us without being embarrassed. She then, in her wisdom, decided to refer him to her colleague, a Psychiatrist, we did not know the difference between counselling and psychiatry back then.
Skip to his first meeting which his dad took him to. It lasted all of 10 maybe 15 minutes, they left with a prescription for a drug called Prozac. She said it would help him get through his exams.
Six days later Jake walked out of an exam halfway through and had his first meltdown that night, He cried for 3 hours..we thought it was the stress of the exams. (This was his 6th day on Prozac)
After 7 days his dosage was doubled without seeing his psychiatrist. When he did see her, two weeks later, I told her what happened, she said, "This will wear off after 3-4 weeks and that he (Jake) should continue on the Prozac."
His 46th day on Prozac saw him take his own life.
Now, she nor the pharmacist, or anybody else for that matter, ever showed us an information leaflet or told us the side effects, she has said since that she went through a suicide check list with Jake and he said 'no' to all the questions put to him by her.
In Ireland, where we live, Prozac, which I believe is responsible for so many deaths, does not carry a black box warning.
When we met with the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and asked why there was no black box warning we were told that nobody would take Prozac if such a black box warning was put into place.
At no stage did I ever sign a consent form nor has the psychiatrist got one with my husband's signature on. In the meantime we are left with the aftermath of a child, who should be on the cusp of something wonderful in his life, now being buried 6ft under ground.
Why is nobody in the medical profession shocked or saddened that Jake is dead? Why do they tell so many lies afterwards? Why do they not want to stop the deaths of children? Why in God's name do they see fit to produce and prescribe a drug with side effects of suicide and self-harm, amongst hundreds of others to children? If they think this is okay then why is ecstasy, cocaine or LSD illegal, what is the difference? The side effects are all the same.
When Jake, towards the end, looked or acted in any way stressed, I, his mother, would ask did he take his medication, thinking his exams were stressing him and the Prozac would make it better. Little did I know, at the time, that it would kill him.
How, do we fix it? Well, we can't but what we can do is speak and fight for our child.
We as Jake's parents will never stop fighting for justice for Jake, no matter what the cost or time. I know the psychiatric profession hope I get bored and/or go away, I know Eli Lilly, who market and manufacture Prozac, hope I stop mentioning their drug. That's never going to happen! They, Eli Lilly and the treating psychiatrist are, I believe, both guilty and both carry Jake's blood on their hands for not informing us that this could happen.
Let's face it, what happened to Jake could happen to any family. We thought we were helping Jake, all we done by listening to the so called professionals, and I use that term lightly, is help kill Jake. This can never be fixed but this should be stopped. Anxiety is part and parcel of life, so is sadness, grief and relationship breakdowns, unemployment too. No tablet is ever going to fix any of the above, these are life circumstances not some made up disorder or a made up chemical imbalance.
If only we had been informed of the side effects I would not be writing this now because we would never have allowed Jake to have Prozac, what parent would?
If your child, or anybody you know, is a little anxious why in the world would you give them a drug with those side effects?
Jake's death was so preventable from start to finish, he was let down by all involved and I include us, his parents, in that statement. How stupid were we to listen to a "professional" when really nobody knows their child like a parent?
Shame on Eli Lilly, shame on the psychiatrist, shame on the IMB and Medical council, shame again on the coroners for not pointing out the dangers when all these inquests come before them.
We will have a voice for Jake, that I am certain of, it will never bring him back but everybody will know that our child was not at any time a depressed suicidal teenager, he was a normal child who died from a legal drug that induced self my son to kill himself.
Stephanie Lynch - Ireland.
The story of Jake isn't isolated. Many parents who lose children to suicide often don't make the connection between an antidepressant induced suicide. Many coroners, who have a duty to give the dead a voice to protect the living, also rarely make the connection. In the case of the latter I believe it boils down to one of two things.
1. Coroners have a blind ignorance when it comes to making the connection between antidepressant induced suicide.
2. Coroners are aware of the link but choose not to publish their findings because they feel they may put people off taking their medication.
What strikes me as an odd statement in Stephanie's above post is the response of the Irish Medicine's Board regarding the black box warning.
"Nobody would take it if such a warning was put into place."
Isn't that the whole point?
When a land owner erects an electronic fence around his/her property he/she has a duty to warn that the fence is electric, ergo, do not touch it. He/she is warning you because you may die if you touch it. Shouldn't the same be said for Prozac? Exactly what is it that the Irish Medicine's Board are trying to say here?
I'm left scratching my head at this bizarre response from a regulator who are supposed to protect the public from unsafe drugs.
Stephanie blames herself for Jake's death, most parents, if not all who have lost a child to suicide, often do. I couldn't disagree more but do understand the guilt, obviously not through experience of losing a child to suicide because I'm fortunate to have all of my three children alive.
Jake was prescribed Prozac, a drug that has been given a clean bill of health by the Irish Medicine's Board and the British drug regulator, the MHRA. In both countries Prozac can be prescribed to children. Strangely, in the United States, Prozac is approved for use in children and adolescents for the treatment of major depressive disorder and for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Jake had neither of these. He was just worried about his exams.
Moreover, Eli Lilly, who market and manufacture Prozac, have placed the following warning on the package insert for Prozac in the United States.
"Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults: Monitor for clinical worsening and suicidal thinking and behavior."
Clever marketing and deflecting of laying the blame individually on Prozac sees the manufacturer lump all antidepressants together when they write on the package insert the following message
"Increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults taking antidepressants."
You'll note that they don't mention their product by name in this statement.
Jake and his parents should have been told about the suicide link when he was prescribed Prozac. His inquest, which will be taking place shortly, should also go into the reasons why Jake or his parents were not warned in the same way that American children are.
A quick look on the MHRA website shows that there has been 111 reported suicides on Prozac - it's my belief that these figures should also be placed onto boxes or package inserts, consumers and parents have a right to know.
The Rxisk database, which gives more up to date figures and includes worldwide reports, shows that there has been 1,560 reported suicides on Prozac. Once again, I believe, that this information should be implemented into package inserts or, at the very least, relayed to patients or the parents of patients.
The system failed Jake, the whole system. The treating psychiatrist, the Irish Medicines Board, and Eli Lilly. Jake's parents put their trust in this system and their son paid the price of the incompetence of all of the above.
I do hope the coroner will, at the very least, ask questions on Jake's behalf... and also on behalf of any children who may in future years be labelled by some apparent mind expert who will, no doubt, prescribe these mind-altering, dangerous class of drugs. I also hope that the coroner returns a verdict of a drug induced suicide. Jake and his family deserve recognition that Prozac played a major role in Jake's death.
Worrying about school exams is not a brain disease. Prescribing mild altering drugs to children because they are worried about pending exams would, in my opinion, suggest that the prescriber has the brain disease.