Underreporting of Suicide as an Adverse Effect of Antipsychotics

Excerpts from A Life Worth Living – Schizophrenia Alternative Treatment: Part 2 – Looking for Answers

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Chapter 8     Suicide: The Final Episode

The largest single contributor to the excessive death rate in individuals with schizophrenia is suicide. One review of studies done on this subject concluded that “suicide is the number one cause of premature death among schizophrenics, with 10 to 13 percent killing themselves”; a more recent estimate was 5 percent. Among individuals in the general population, the suicide rate is approximately 1 percent.

Depression represents the single most important cause of suicide among persons with schizophrenia, just as it does among persons without schizophrenia. The majority of patients will experience significant depression at some point during the course of their illness; this realization should lead psychiatrists to remain alert for depression and to treat it more aggressively with antidepressant medication. Depression may arise from the disease process itself (i.e., schizophrenia affects the brain chemistry so as to cause depression), from the patient’s realization of the severity of their illness, or as a side effect of medications used to treat schizophrenia (Torrey, 2013). These medications are the cause of the depression.

Pharmaceutical companies cite suicide as the “final episode” in the list of adverse side effects to antipsychotic drugs. Other side effects, given scientific names such as akinesia, or movement indifference, and akathisia, or inner restlessness, can lead to the final episode. They are de-motivational in their affect and cause restlessness, depression, and lethargy in the person with schizophrenia.

Suicides Reported by MedWatch (FDA) in 2007 (United States)

It should be noted that suicides in schizophrenics are highly under-reported. Many suicides in homeless persons and mentally ill incarcerated are not attributed to schizophrenia; parents do not report; patients are not under the care of doctors at the time of suicide and their previous doctors are not notified. When I asked a psychopharmacologist for studies that show the rate of suicide for certain antipsychotics, I was told that I would need an attorney to get that information. The following information was obtained through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Suicides/Suicide Ideation Reported by MedWatch for Quepiatine in Young Adults from Eighteen to Twenty-Four Years Old in 2007 (United States)

Total Cases Reported
2353
Suicide (number of cases: %) Suicide Attempt (number of cases: %) Suicide Ideation (number of cases: %) Suicide Depression (number of cases: %)
545: 23.16% 704: 29.92% 989: 42.0% 12: 51%
Reported by Number of cases: %
Medical Doctors 686: 29.21%
Other health professionals 1247: 49%
Consumers 786: 26.6%
Pharmacists 104: 3.52%

One thought on “Underreporting of Suicide as an Adverse Effect of Antipsychotics

  1. Hello again……After reading your last chapter, and I was thinking the same thing , I now realize Gorje is suffering from “akathisia” ! He can sit or lay down for only a minimum of five to ten seconds then has to get up and move . He has been extreemly irritable for the last few days. This also accures when there is a full or new moon . Your last chapter has convinced me to contact Dr. Mackliff to see if we need to augment Gorjes meds. Keep it comming !

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