Lynch called on to explore causes of suicide

Suicide Aware, a Cork based voluntary organisation tackling the issues of mental health and suicide in Ireland, have launched a campaign in association with Cork’s Red FM and the Students’ Union of UCC and CIT.Emmet Curtin

News Posted on 13/09/2012 by Brian Hayes Curtin @BHayesCurtin

A mother whose son killed himself soon after starting a prescribed antidepressant has called on Cork TD Kathleen Lynch to investigate the link between psychiatric drugs and suicide.

Leonie Fennel had a meeting with Ms Lynch, the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health on 3 May. At the meeting, she and two healthcare professionals told the minister that antidepressants were causing vulnerable people to commit suicide and asked her to investigate the links.

“Professor David Healy told her that 'psychiatric drugs' were the leading cause of death within the mental health field,” according to Ms Fennel.

“Dr Gilsenan opined that the suicide statistics must be collated to determine if his suspicions were correct.

“They both offered their services to help in this regard. She has done nothing and has not contacted either. If she really cared about suicide victims and stopping future tragedies, she would have done something about this before now,” she added.

“I am extremely disappointed that Minister Lynch has done nothing to stop future deaths that will be caused by these dangerous drugs. She said she would talk to James Reilly in that regard.”

“It seems that a lot of suicides occur soon after people seek medical help and are prescribed psychiatric drugs.

“My son killed himself in 2009. The jury at his inquest decided to reject a suicide verdict because he had consumed the prescribed 'mind altering drug' Cipramil for 17 days.”

She said that a similar case occurred in Cork two years ago when Nicholas Maguire from Blackrock took his own life soon after taking anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. 

“Drug induced death is the leading cause of death within the mental health field according to Prof. Healy,” she told the Cork Independent. 

Dr Declan Gilsenan described the situation as “an aberration that needs investigation”.

“It should be investigated. I’d like to see someone look at all suicide verdicts from coroners, see who had seen doctors and see what medication they had been on.

Dr Declan Gilsenan is a former assistant state pathologist with 30 years experience of carrying out post-mortems. He said that when he started conducting post-mortems in the midlands in the late 1970s there were five suicides a year, but that had ballooned to 25 – 30 suicides in 2008.

Ms Lynch was unavailable for comment. 

Pieta House

There were 65 people in Cork who took their lives in 2011, according to CSO stats. Pieta House is asking people to reach out within their communities and organise a fundraising event during Suicide Awareness Week which runs until 17 September.

Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre, officially opened its doors in Lucan, Co. Dublin in January 2006. They are opening a centre in Cork early next year.

Fundraising packs are available at www.pieta.ie/Pieta-House-Events-and-volunteering.html. For further information and updates check www.pieta.ie.

Suicide Aware

Suicide Aware, a Cork based voluntary organisation tackling the issues of mental health and suicide in Ireland, has launched a campaign in association with Cork’s Red FM and the Students’ Union of UCC and CIT. The initiative, aimed at students, urges people not to get left behind when on a night out.

According to Suicide Aware, extensive research into the incidence of suicide showed that almost 25 per cent suicides in 2009 – 2010 occurred when victims were separated from friends in a late night situation.

Donations to Suicide Aware can be made at the Suicide Aware Trust Account, Bank Of Ireland 32 South Mall, Cork. Sort Code 90-27-68 A/C No 27772561. Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact Samaritans on  1850-609090  or seek help from a healthcare professional.