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Author: Justin Mckibben
While the nation seems to have recognized the looming threat of an opiate epidemic that has been claiming lives in record numbers in every state, others also believe there is another epidemic that exists in our country that sits insidiously in the shadows of other issues, getting worse and worse as time runs out for more and more people. This epidemic is one that isn’t as easy to see in action because its symptoms are much more personal and subliminal than the warning signs and effects of drug abuse, but it is an epidemic that is just as crippling and perhaps even scarier because it is so much harder to see it coming. However experts insist the United States is also in the grips of a suicide epidemic.
As a suicide survivor and someone with a history of prescription drug abuse, I can say this story was significantly disturbing considering all the elements involved. Don’t get me wrong, I see the positive impact some people experience with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. One might say I would be a likely candidate for either, but my suspicion was definitely spiked when I read some of the information in this report.
The assessment of a rising suicide epidemic comes in aggregation with various other intense and terrifying reports- including the underreporting of suicide rates related to antidepressant use by the Big Pharma companies responsible, and an increase in overdose of anti-anxiety medications.
Now an analysis of recent reviews on common antidepressants is leading us to ask- is Big Pharma hiding that anti-depressants are related to these rising suicide rates?
The Global Suicide Scale
The issue is not only confined to the United States. According to the World Health Organization in 2015 suicide is now the 3rd leading cause of death, representing a 60% increase worldwide over the past 45 years!
A recent study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015 found that British males between the ages of 45 and 49 had a drastic increase of 40% in suicide rates in just 7 years. In retired males, or pensioners, the increase was 10%.
One report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in shows statistics that found an estimated 9.3 million adults in the United States (3.9% of the adult population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year.
The Nordic Cochrane Center carried out a review later analyzed by University College London (UCL). Of most of the medications the primary statistics that were found to be most shocking were those for:
- Selective serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
These antidepressants, according to the review, actually double the rate of suicide and aggressive behavior for adolescents and young people under the age of 18. But more troubling than the fact these medications intended to treat depression actually increased risks of harmful side-effects was the fact that the review determined there was “serious underestimation of the harms” by the Big Pharma companies. This leads the authors of the study to infer that older adults are likely to also experience elevated risk of suicide than the makers will admit.
- The report states that more than half of the suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts had been misreported in case studies as “emotional instability” or “worsening of depression.”
- In a summary by Big Pharma company Eli Lilly suicidal attempts were missing in 90% of the cases
In the last two decades deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs have quadrupled, which coincides with a tripling rate of these drugs being prescribes. So as the drugs were being distributed at magnified amounts, more people were simultaneously dying due to overdosing on them.
Conclusions on Corruption
Dr. Tarang Sharma of the Nordic Cochrane Center stated in the research that,
“The analysis suggests that clinical study reports, on which decisions about market authorization are based, are likely to underestimate the extent of drug-related harms.”
Many experts involved in this review and the proceeding analysis have said they find it troubling that one could conclude more and more patients are being prescribed these medications and taking them in increasingly hazardous doses over time, but no one in Big Pharma seems to see there is an issue with how they report their product studies.
So even if the Big Pharma companies behind the antidepressants aren’t aware if their drugs are responsible for suicide rates rising, shouldn’t they be paying closer attention to how they examine these products?
While it is true there is no clear cut reason for why suicide rates all over the world are rising at such a tragic and terrifying rate, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication don’t seem to be making it any better when you take a closer look at the records. Yet Big Pharma continues to turn a serious profit while avoiding any blame in the cause of these deaths and covering up any connection with catch-phrases like “emotional instability” instead of giving their potentially damaging drugs an honest appraisal.
Depression, thoughts of suicide, and anxiety are all medical conditions that need attention and treatment. Too often powerful prescription drugs are seen as the only solution, which can evolve into substance abuse and addiction. Depression also can come hand in hand with alcohol use disorder or drug addiction, and all these point to increased rates of suicide. There is a way out, even when we don’t see any hope. If you or someone you love is struggling please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
How much does drug abuse or narcotic medication have to do with the body-count of a killer? Is the fiction of Dr. Jekyll self-medicating with a bottle of liquid evil and mutating into Hyde an ugly and exaggerated metaphor of a more flesh and blood reality? Or is any speculation of drugs causing psychotic breaks another fear-based propaganda piece?
While the number of drug addicts far outnumbers the population of serial killers or assassins in their midst, which may make this seem like a bit of a reach, some new data is suggesting there may actually be some truth to the idea that drugs can impact the risk of homicide. So why write about it? Truthfully because it is an interesting hypothesis to explore. Could more motives for murder be chemical than personal, and does it make a difference to the average addict?
Killing in the Name Of…
Over time there’s been a lot of debate over whether psychotropic drugs, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants can create violent behavior. This discussion became even more relevant following the numerous massacres committed over the years by young individuals in schools and other public places in the United States and other countries. Many examined the lives of these troubled teens, scrutinizing their vicious crimes and placing the blame on the drugs.
Professor Jari Tiihonen’s, leader of the study, stated in regards to the research:
“It has been repeatedly claimed that it was the anti-depressants used by the persons who committed these massacres that triggered their violent behavior. It is possible that the massive publicity around the subject has already affected drug prescription practices,”
Recently there was a study published in the journal World Psychiatry that was the first of its kind… ever… in the world. This study was aimed to find the relationship between drugs and homicide and in the process the researchers found some intriguing and unexpected revelations.
Professor Tiihonen’s led an international research team at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience, where they analyzed the use of prescription drugs of 959 persons convicted of a homicide in Finland between 2003 and 2011.
The data was collected analyzing the Finnish homicide and prescription drug databases. Researchers found a pattern that associated an increased risk of committing a homicide to use of certain drugs that affect the central nervous system. So what drugs were they, and how big is the risk?
Of course to accurately study the link between drug use and the risk of committing a crime, a certain criteria must be followed, including reason for using the drug. One also has to take into account the effects of any other drugs and intoxicants used simultaneously, so not to dilute the results of one drug under the influence of another. Because no other studies like this have yet to be published further research may expand more on the conclusions drawn here.
The results show:
- Anti-psychotics not associated with a significantly increased risk of homicide
- Anti-depressants associated with slightly elevated risk (+31%)
- Benzodiazepines associated with significantly elevated risk (+45%)
So the research team found the odds of committing homicide were 31% higher during time periods when offenders were on antidepressants, versus when they were not. But while this relative increase might sound concernedly large, it actually represents a small shift in a risk that is already pretty low to begin with. So there is still doubt that this is a cause and affect scenario. And when it came to subjects younger than 26, which is the age for which concerns about antidepressants are greatest considering the numerous aforementioned tragedies, there was no connection between the medications and homicide risk.
Highest increase in the risk of committing a homicide was associated with:
In persons under 26 years of age, the highest increase in the risk of committing a homicide was associated with:
- Opiate painkillers (+223%)
- Benzodiazepines (+95%)
So the team did find that when offenders were on valid prescriptions for opiate painkillers like OxyContin their odds of committing homicide were roughly doubled, versus periods when they were off the drugs. But while the study looked at prescriptions, opiates are commonly abused, and the study concluded drug abuse could make a major difference in what makes these drugs dangerous to people with a history of aggression.
Still this data should offer some reassurance on the safety of antidepressants in that regard, according to lead researcher Dr. Jari Tiihonen, who believes as far as the science goes there’s little evidence that the medications carry such a risk. Two psychiatrists from the United States reviewed the study, and agreed with that assessment.
Cutting to Conclusions
If you have read this far, let me be clear and say I’m not asserting these statistics prove everyone who uses these drugs are killing people because of drugs, if this was the case I’d be the Patrick Bateman of my generation. It’s only referring to those people who are killing, and whether or not they are commonly using these drugs. This study is about attempting to find the connection, following the patterns and assessing the damage.
According to Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, there is no medication influential enough to turn a normally non-aggressive person into a murderer.
While no direct correlation is absolute without more solid and supportive data, this still brings to mind a pretty important question: do people who are already a little unstable or violent run a greater risk of killing someone when using painkillers or other medications? Should “may cause random homicidal outbursts and death of friends and family” be written on the pill bottle warning label?
OK, maybe not to THAT extreme… but you get where I’m going with this?
Any addict can tell you chronic drug use will mess with the mind, that should be a given and that is the point. Drugs can shatter what self-control and logic we hold tightly on to in attempts to stay normal. So this isn’t a scare tactic, it’s an acknowledgement of some extremes of the devastation. We can’t blame the drugs for murder, but can we at least look into the impact they have on a fragile mind?
In this case Dr. Jekyll would have been teetering over the psychological edge far before picking up a pill.
Benzodiazepines are said to weaken impulse control, and past studies have determined painkillers affect emotional processing. As a former addict I can say while I actively abused these exact kinds of prescription medications I see where my own emotional stability had been compromised, and where my impulses were definitely more aggressive, irrational or inappropriate. But then again, drugs take their tolls in different ways on different people. Either way, to say it doesn’t corrupt a persons reasoning is careless, but to blame murder on medication at this point may also be irresponsible.
I’m just saying I haven’t killed anyone… today…… yet.
Drugs and alcohol often change us into people even we don’t recognize, and sometimes we can’t see what a profound change these substances have on us until it’s too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135