Saturday, 16 March 2013's Misinformation about Mental Health

Earlier this week, one of Ireland's most popular news and media amalgamation websites,, posted an editorial entitled 'Anti Depressants In An Age of Suicide'. Its attention focused on the inquest into the murder-suicide involving Shane Clancy in 2009, and the connection between anti-depressants and suicide. The piece linked to evidence published in 2009 by Marc Stone which concluded that "clinical trials of antidepressants in children and adolescents have shown an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviour relative to those who received placebo". This study showed differing results for those over the age of 25 who did not show such high instances of such behaviour.

The Broadsheet piece also linked to this report by the European Medicines Agency, which states that at a 2005 meeting of its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, (CHMP) it noted that 'suicide-related behaviour (suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (predominantly aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger) were more frequently observed in clinical trials among children and adolescents treated with these antidepressants compared to those treated with placebos'. The report then goes on to outline that in the clinical studies carried out by the CMPH that there were no reports of death due to suicide.

Most significantly, Broadsheet concluded the piece with this:

Dr. Patricia Casey, Professor of Psychiatry at University College Dublin attended the inquest and challenged the linking of anti-depressants of suicide. In response, reported that "She has stated that there is no evidence to suggest that anti-depressants cause suicide yet there is plenty of evidence from the FDA and EMA to contradict her."

Broadsheet have stated in the above sentence, that anti-depressants cause suicide. This shows a poor understanding of psychiatry, of the causes of mental-illness and the methods of treatment for it. It would be to suggest, as pointed out in the comments, that seat-belts are the cause of road fatalities. In Ireland, where suicide is killing more people than road deaths, misinformation such as this by Broadsheet only creates further difficulties for those facing mental-health issues. It's generally accepted that 90% of those who commit suicide were diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. Equally, receiving a diagnosis should not be equated with increasing the likelihood of suicide.

Broadsheet failed to point out the effectiveness of treatment for mental illness, that 73% of people who receive psychotherapy and 81% of those who receive psychotherapy in combination with medication have significant improvement in their condition. In what appears to be a personal agenda against Professor Casey, Broadsheet have succumbed to the lazy, sensationalist, tabloid-journalism that broadsheets are meant to counter.

(Article amended on the 21st of August, 2013. Link provided to 'the effectiveness of treatment').


  1. As the mother of above mentioned Shane, I feel I should point out that the European Medicines Agency and the FDA (US Medicines Regulator) give warnings that antidepressants can CAUSE: suicide, violence, mania, akathisia and depression, among other things. Professor David Healy says that these drugs double the risk of suicide and violence. Do you happen to know better than the experts?

    The fact that Professor Casey denies the suicide link but also worked for Lundbeck (the drug company who make Cipramil) is indisputable.

    Furthermore, you say "It's generally accepted that 90% of those who commit suicide were diagnosed with a psychiatric illness." I would like to know where that has been found, as I believe that is most definitely not the case and would suggest that you are succumbing to the lazy journalism of which you accuse Broadsheet of. Sure these drugs can work for some people, but for others they can cause death and destruction. Denying people 'informed consent' is highly dangerous and further deaths will occur because of it.

    As for the effectiveness of treatment, the stats you quote seem extraordinary high; surely if the treatment you refer to is so successful, you should be able to solve the suicide epidemic in no time. Good luck with that.

  2. Dear Leonie,

    I would like to state from the outset how sorry I am for the tragic death of your son.

    I agree with much of what you state. The science behind medication can be used to misrepresent for the benefit of big-pharma. I think we'd both agree profit is placed before patient outcomes for a considerable amount of healthcare. We both have the best interests of the people of Ireland at heart when we raise our concerns about suggested treatment, by healthcare professionals and by the media.

    I definitely don't know better than the experts. I can only hope to help people take a more critically aware, responsible decision when it comes to their health. Doing so in an honest, transparent manner is of importance to me. Referring to "It's generally accepted that 90% of those who commit suicide were diagnosed with a psychiatric illness", the link was provided in the article under the highlighted words 'generally accepted' and I provide it again here:

    Regarding effectiveness, the link in the above article has ceased to work (my apologies that I did not take note of it sooner) linked through to this article: which describes the effectiveness of treatment. You're right when you say that they can work for some and cause destruction for others. It's a difficult decision to say what is the right thing to do for another person.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to this article. I hope that my response provides some clarity about any ambiguity. I can only wish you the best in the future.