A suicide epidemic now grips the United States, but that news comes in conjunction with several alarming reports — including underreporting by pharmaceutical companies of the scope of suicides related to antidepressant use, as well as an increase in overdoses by those prescribed anti-anxiety medication.
“An estimated 9.3 million adults (3.9% of the adult U.S. population) reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their 2015 suicide statistics. In fact, “suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013.”
But the issue isn’t constrained to the U.S. A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015 found the rate of suicide of British males between the ages of 45 and 49 had risen a dramatic 40 percent in just seven years. Of retired males, or pensioners, the increase in rate of suicides was 10 percent.
Around the globe, according to the World Health Organization in 2015, suicide is now the third leading cause of death — representing an increase of 60 percent over the past 45 years.
On top of these striking statistics, a recent review of common antidepressants — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) — found not only are they responsible for increased suicides, but pharmaceutical companies underreport those effects.
Those antidepressants, rather than necessarily aiding people, actually double the rate of suicide and aggressive behavior for adolescents and young people under the age of 18. Though the review evidenced the marked increase in that age group, it also found a “serious underestimation of the harms” by Big Pharma meaning older adults likely have increased risk of suicide, as well.
Lead author of the study from the Nordic Cochrane Center, Prof. Peter Gotzsche, explained:
“Antidepressants don’t work in children, that is pretty clear, in the randomized trials children say that they don’t work for them, but they increase their risk of suicide.
“What I get out of this colossal under-reporting of suicides is that [antidepressants] likely increase suicides in all ages … it is absolutely horrendous that [pharmaceutical companies] have such disregard for human lives.”
The Nordic Cochrane Center carried out the review, which was analyzed by University College London (UCL). As the National Post reported, Dr. Tarang Sharma of the Nordic Cochrane Center stated, “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.”
Those companies misrepresented patient symptoms and antidepressant effects in several ways. According to the Post, “More than half of the suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts had been misrecorded as emotional instability or worsening of depression. In summary trial reports from the drugs giant Eli Lilly, suicidal attempts were missing in 90 percent of cases.”
Even further, deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines — such as those marketed under the name brands Xanax and Valium — have quadrupled in the last two decades. This quadrupling occurred alongside a tripling in such prescriptions.
“We found that the death rate from overdoses involving benzodiazepines. also known as ‘benzos,’ has increased more than four-fold since 1996 — a public health problem that has gone under the radar,” said Dr. Marcus Bachhuber of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as NBC News reported. “Overdoses from benzodiazepines have increased at a much faster rate than prescriptions for the drugs, indicating that people have been taking them in a riskier way over time.”
Though the specific causes for the distressing global uptick in suicides aren’t entirely clear, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication don’t appear to be helping. In the meantime, Big Pharma reaps profit while carelessly tossing aside all human costs and ominously covering them up.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal please call 1 (800) 273-8255 and talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.