Why do we need a sui­cide pre­ven­tion min­is­ter?

Nottingham Post - - OPINION -

IT’S a poor re­flec­tion on cur­rent psy­chi­atric prac­tice that a Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Min­is­ter has to be ap­pointed by the Prime Min­is­ter to tackle the si­t­u­a­tion. Such an ap­point­ment begs the ques­tion: what are psy­chi­a­trists do­ing with the large amounts of pub­lic fund­ing that are sup­posed to be for those in need of as­sis­tance and for those who may be think­ing of tak­ing their own lives?

One pos­si­ble an­swer re­volves around the psy­chi­atric treat­ments them­selves. Psy­chi­a­trists have been pre­scrib­ing psy­chi­atric drugs in co­pi­ous amounts for decades, drugs that are known to cause vi­o­lence, ag­gres­sion and yes, sui­cide thoughts and sui­ci­dal be­hav­iour. Pa­tient In­for­ma­tion Leaflets for all an­tide­pres­sants have car­ried warn­ings about the dan­gers of the drugs since 2008 but de­spite these warn­ings, pre­scrip­tion rates have con­tin­ued to go up.

In 2017, 67.5 mil­lion an­tide­pres­sant pre­scrip­tion items were dis­pensed in Eng­land com­pared to 22 mil­lion in 2000. The cost of an­tide­pres­sant drugs over that pe­riod was £5.2 bil­lion. That’s a mas­sive cost to tax­pay­ers. But for what? It’s been said be­fore but it needs to be said again – that’s good busi­ness for drug man­u­fac­tur­ers but its bad medicine.

Psy­chi­a­trists how­ever blame the per­son’s men­tal trou­bles, point­ing to the man­u­fac­tured men­tal ill­ness or psy­chi­atric la­bel as the rea­son for the sui­cide. This is an at­tempt to avoid re­spon­si­bil­ity for hav­ing au­tho­rised the use of a mind-al­ter­ing drug known to have po­ten­tially se­ri­ous con­se­quences. It is a trav­esty of jus­tice that they have been able to get away with this op­er­at­ing ba­sis for so long. The Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Min­is­ter should know that over a 25-year pe­riod, there were 19,943 drug poi­son­ing deaths re­lated to ben­zo­di­azepine drugs, an­tipsy­chotic drugs and an­tide­pres­sants.

If one of the new Min­is­ter’s func­tions is to help re­move the stigma sur­round­ing sui­cide, it would also be help­ful to en­sure peo­ple are fully in­formed be­fore they start tak­ing psy­chi­atric drugs.

Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to make a fully in­formed choice could lead to peo­ple mak­ing dif­fer­ent de­ci­sions, which may ul­ti­mately have an im­pact on sui­cide fig­ures. It would also be worth­while if the Min­is­ter looked into how pub­lic funds are be­ing spent by the men­tal health sec­tor. If psy­chi­a­trists are sup­posed to be help­ing peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing with men­tal trou­bles, they are fail­ing.

Brian Daniels Na­tional Spokesper­son Cit­i­zens Com­mis­sion on Hu­man

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