(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
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.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Overdose death has become one of the most terrible realities most Americans have had to face these past few years to one extent or another, with drug overdose being the leading cause of injury related death in the country and statistics showing that overdose impacts 1 in every 4 people in some way. As the opiate epidemic pours gasoline onto the flames of the overdose outbreak, hundreds upon hundreds of lives are claimed every day. So it should be no small thing that one family has made a massive effort to cultivate a movement so that we take at least one day to remember those lost to drug overdose.
This past Sunday marked what is now known as “Black Balloon Day,” when those who’ve suffered the loss of a loved one to an overdose join together in a weighty and influential act of solidarity in order to raise awareness of the intense and rampant epidemic.
The Family Behind Black Balloon Day
The initial idea for Black Balloon Day was conceived by a mother and daughter who were personally influenced in a very tragic and intimate way by the current opioid crisis. Diane and Lauren Hurley of Peabody, Massachusetts began Black Balloon Day in remembrance of Greg Tremblay- a father of four who is the son-in-law of Diane and brother-in-law of Lauren.
Greg Tremblay died of an overdose last year on March 6th at the unnerving young age of 38 years old. Lauren Hurley told newscasters,
“To show them they aren’t the only people (that) lost a parent or (lost) their children. Every day this is happening. Even if one person sees a balloon and thinks ‘I could be the person that someone could be hanging the balloon out for’…in my eyes we did something right.”
In a short time, Black Balloon Day has become a national and international event, bringing awareness to overdose deaths.
The steps to participate in Black Balloon Day included the Hurleys asking anyone who has been impacted by the drug epidemic to hang a black balloon in front of their homes and post on social media with #BlackBalloonDay.
In the first year Diane herself said even when she came up with the idea for Black Balloon Day she expected only about 100 people to participate, but the Facebook event her daughter set up drew about 20,000 people who wanted to participate, with participants joining the event from all over America and the rest of the world. Since then the event has continued to grow.
Taking to Twitter you can see that #BlackBalloonDay has not been overlooked, as images from all over the country pour in of families and friends remembering their loved ones and honoring the fight against drug addiction. Black balloons can be seen with names written in silver Sharpie and tied to mail boxes or held up with photos of those lost to overdose death. There are even images of public officials and politicians standing with black balloons in the chambers of state offices calling their communities to get involved in the event.
While today may be too late to participate in Black Balloon Day, there is still a lot of opportunities this year to get involved in raising awareness. In all actuality every year there are 365 days we should take to acknowledge and honor those lost to the affliction of addiction. 365 chances every year to raise our voices and try to make a difference. Black Balloon Day is one of many chances we all have to make the rest of the world take notice of the pain and devastation caused by drug addiction and overdose. Every year we have 365 chances to try and change the world in a way that saves lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The opiate epidemic has been a pretty regular topic of discussion recently, with both a growing awareness of the issue touching all communities instead of just poor and urban areas, and concerns of the focus of the epidemic shifting from prescription painkillers to heroin use. At one point it was determined that prescription painkillers were public enemy number one, with overdose deaths skyrocketing.
Then as the crackdowns on prescription regulations and pill mills took effect, the problem took another turn and experts noticed a rise in heroin abuse as a result. Now a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is solidifying the notion of addicts substituting one opiate for another, noting an alarming rise in deaths from heroin overdose in the United States, with the most significant increase occurring between 2010 and 2013.
Reporting the Rise in Overdose Death
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report that shows how death rates from heroin overdose have actually increased so much they have nearly quadrupled since 2000.
The assessments included in this report are based on the National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death mortality files, and all deaths were classified using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision.
- In 2000 there were 0.7 deaths per 100,000 people
- 2013 showed 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people
- From 2000 through 2013, the age-adjusted rate for drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin increased for all regions of the country, with the greatest increase seen in the Midwest.
Between 2010 and 2013 the bulk of that outbreak took root, with the death rate of spiking from 6% in the previous decade to 37% in just that 3 year period alone. 2013 itself saw more than 40,000 people in the United States die from some form of overdose. That year with that kind of number drug overdose (drug poisoning) became the leading cause of injury-rated death in America!
Not all of these cases were the same either. Out of all the drug-poisoning deaths in 2013:
- 81% were unintentional
- 12% were suicides
- 6% were of undetermined intent
- Less than 1% were homicides
Determining the Demographic
The report presented by the CDC also included demographic data, showing specifics in age, sex, and race:
- Drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin for women in 2013 reached 1,732 deaths
- The number of drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin was nearly 4 times higher for men- 6,525 deaths
- In 2000, non-Hispanic black persons aged 45–64 had the highest rate for drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin, making up 2.0 per 100,000 people.
- In 2013, non-Hispanic white persons aged 18–44 had the highest rate, with 7.0 per 100,000 people.
For those of you still under the impression that your neighborhood is any different, be aware that practically every region of the United States experienced a rise in heroin-related deaths. While these reports have determined that the Midwest had the highest increase of 11-fold between 2000 and 2013, it is still safe to assume that heroin has made an impact to some extent in your community.
Researchers were unclear as to identifying a precise reason for the difference in the increases in the Midwest specifically, or for any other rate increases for that matter.
Looking toward the future
Now there are some mixed feelings looking toward the future of what will become of our overdose epidemic here in America. According to a recent study conducted by Columbia University that was published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, the drug overdose epidemic in the United States will actually peak in 2017, at about 50,000 annual deaths.
Chief executive officer of the Associations in Emergency Medical Education Sharon Kelley has openly expressed that government restrictions on the availability of prescription drugs have actually driven many users to either turn to hospital emergency rooms for drugs, or they resort to heroin. The theory is that as we combat prescription painkillers, we are giving that power to another evil.
Harm reduction seems to be making its impression on policy makers, and the importance of effective drug and alcohol treatment is becoming more obvious. Politicians are also going to bat against Big Pharma to try and make more affordable and accessible overdose antidote drugs available to the general population. So for now we have to keep our fingers crossed and show more effort than ever to raise awareness, to wake people in this country up to the reality that heroin and painkillers are claiming more lives than ever before, and that it is up to all of us to do something about it.
Overdose deaths are killing Americans in alarming numbers that only appear to be getting worse and worse every year, and many believe it will only get worse before it gets better. However we all have a choice that can make a change. Just like each death, each life saved can make a world of difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Darren Shahlavi began his career as a powerful martial artist who was originally born and raised in Stockport, England, and was best known as a supporting player on TV shows including Mortal Kombat: Legacy and Arrow, but sadly he lost his life this week in what is being reported as an alleged prescription drug overdose.
The actor primarily made a name for himself in the entertainment industry for playing bad guys in martial arts films, but is described by his family as an amazing person with endless talent.
The Life of Shahlavi
Darren Shahlavi started his path to star status pretty early, practicing martial arts since the young age of 7 years old. In the early 1990s he moved to Hong Kong later in life to pursue a career doing stunts, where he was recruited to star in action movie Tai Chi 2.
Shahlavi relocated to the United States to continue furthering his film career. He got involved in several big name productions performing stunt work. Some for the bigger titles he was part of were listed as:
- The Chronicles of Riddick
- Night at the Museum
Shahlavi was even involved in acting on the big screen, acting in films like I Spy alongside Eddie Murphy back in 2002. Then he was featured alongside the late Robin Williams for the 2004 filmThe Final Cut. Robin Williams was another incredible and talented entertainer with a history of drug use who passed away recently.
In 2010, Darren Shahlavi even got the opportunity to act in the martial arts film Ip Man 2, the next year he got another big break as a star in Mortal Kombat: Legacy as Kano. Because of the prominent martial arts prowess, he was cast in a variety of other action roles in films such as:
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
- BloodRayne (2005)
Still it was his adaptation of Kano, the thuggish head of the Black Dragon crime cartel in the Mortal Kombat series that earned him the widest recognition.
Tragedy struck on January 14th of this year when Shahlavi, age 42, was reportedly found dead at his home in Los Angeles. Few details are currently known about the British actor’s death, but some new outlets have recently reported that the death was due to an apparent overdose on prescription drugs.
Some sources have also made claims that Shahlavi had an extended history of drug and alcohol abuse, but this has yet to be confirmed by an official report. The Los Angeles County Coroner is now preparing for the conduct toxicology tests before more detailed information will be available.
His agent, Kathy Carpenter, confirmed his death shortly after the initial reports. With the news of Shahlavis death circulating the Internet at rapid speed, several former co-stars took to Twitter in order to express their grief and condolences. Stephen Amell, star of Arrow on the CW network wrote,
“RIP Darren Shahlavi. 1st guy I ever fought on Arrow. He was a great dude & a patient, thoughtful partner. Fight looked good because of him.”
Shahlavi is survived by his former wife, Luraina Undershute, and his actress sister, Elisabeth Shahlavi. After hearing about his passing, Shahlavi’s younger sister Malouse wrote on Twitter,
“Don’t know how to express the emotions I’m feeling right now. Last night I found out my dearest brother had past away, he was a true inspiration to so many people including myself and I will forever be proud of all of your accomplishments with your acting career.”
Truly it is always a painful and emotional time when another incredible and talented individual loses their life to drugs and alcohol. It is sad that as a society we are used to hearing about celebrities and entertainers dying due to abuse of drugs or a severe addiction. Our thoughts go out to Darren’s family during this difficult and devastating time.
Rest in Peace
August 5, 1972 – January 14, 2015
Prescription drug overdoses have drastically increased in the past few years. More and more people are dying because of this dangerous and debilitating affliction, and the worst part is there is help out there that can save them. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135