Prozac Killed My Son

“I want to join others who are trying to remove Prozac from the hands of doctors who hand these pills out like ‘candy to kids’.”

 

I am in the seventh month of mourning the loss of my 14 year old son. During those months I have been reading everything I can find on suicide, survivors of suicide, etc., trying to make sense of my son’s death.

He was a good boy, an honor student, attending the Accelerated Learning Lab (for the gifted & talented), at Lakeridge Jr. High. He was maturing rapidly, and for reasons unknown to us, was showing signs of depression. Because I had read so many things about depression having a “genetic link”, and as my husband has suffered severe periods of depression all his life, I wanted to help my son from falling into the life long pattern of depressed episodes that my husband still struggles with. We took him to our family doctor and was promptly prescribed Prozac.

As I look back on everything that has transpired from that time until his death, I now understand that the changes in his behavior were a direct result of the drug. I want to join others who are trying to remove Prozac from the hands of doctors who hand these pills out like “candy to kids”. As a result of my searching for answers, I was led to the book “Prozac Backlash”. What an eye opener! If my doctor had known of the serious side effects that could occur, I’m sure he wouldn’t have prescribed it. If I had known, there is no way that I would have even contemplated giving it to my son. His depression was certainly a concern, but he wasn’t suicidal. I know that I’ll never be able to “prove” that Prozac killed my son, but I believe this with every fibre of my being.

Then I was led to Edward Havass, an attorney in SLC. I was told that he had been investigating Prozac related suicides. He consulted with an attorney in Houston about my son’s case. I received a letter this week informing me that my son’s suicide wasn’t consistent with other cases they were investigating because he committed suicide after having been on the drug for a couple of years, rather than within the first few weeks. He also said that it was unusual that my son took his life after stopping the Prozac. Mr. Havas also told me that a history of depression in the family also clouded the issue.

From what I have read, the effects of Prozac can stay in your system, sometimes months after having stopped the drug. I have also read that their is no scientific evidence to genetically link depression in family members. From my personal research I have found that even the experts don’t exactly know what is a “normal” serotonin level. How can they, in good conscience, prescribe a drug to correct a serotonin imbalance, when they don’t even know if there is a serotonin imbalance? From what I’ve read, there is no “consistent” pattern. And finally, who is to know when my son first started thinking suicidal thoughts? He felt uncomfortable taking the drug; he didn’t want anyone to know he “had” to take them. I tried telling him that it was no different than a diabetic taking insulin. If he had a serotonin imbalance, it was no different than a diabetic who had a different kind of imbalance. I told him these things because that is what our doctor had told us.

A couple of times I discovered that he hadn’t been taking his pills consistently, and asked him if he would need my help to remember to take them. On one occasion, he said sometimes he just simply forgot, but on another occasion he said he just wanted to handle his “own problems”. He wanted to be a man, and not have to depend on “some stupid drug”. I consulted with my doctor about this internal struggle he was having, and my doctor told me that Prozac was a long acting drug. It stayed in the system for awhile, but that my son should try to be more consistent.

We dealt with three separate incidences involving my son that were completely out of character for him. I am not going to detail them here, but suffice it to say, all three were extremely upsetting events, and with each occurrence, I remember thinking “Is Prozac playing a part in this?” And then I’d remind myself that our doctor had expressed his complete confidence in the safety of this drug, and eventually I brushed it off on the “teenage hormonal imbalances”, and wondered to myself if gifted kids like him just saw things and handled things in ways different than average kids.

After two years on the drug, (He was first prescribed Prozac a few months after his 12th birthday), he made a self determination to wean himself off of the drug. I hadn’t known about this decision until one day I was thinking that it had been awhile since I had filled his prescription, and when I examined the date on the pill bottle, I found that his prescription should have been refilled a couple of weeks before, but the bottle was still about half full. I talked with him about my discovery, and that’s when he confessed that he was trying to “go off of them by himself”. I had heard a few controversial things about Prozac, but I didn’t know that there might be withdrawal problems with them. Still, I quietly observed him, and he seemed to be doing really well.

His best friend had come to stay with us for the summer break between my son’s eighth and ninth grade, and my son was happier than I had seen him in a long time. They were planning all kinds of things together – biking the trail that led from the lake to Bridal Veil Falls, trips to the mall, 4-Wheeling with dad, hours and hours of Nintendo and Sega game competitions – maybe even joining up for summer football together. The night before he died, they were up in his room playing something on his Sega set, laughing and whooping it up. I remember my daughter pounding on the bedroom wall and yelling at them to “shut up because she was trying to sleep”. I thought about putting an end to their self made entertainment myself, but then thought, “Oh let them be boys… it’s only for the summer”, and besides, my son was a good kid. He didn’t ask for much. The next morning he got up, removed a small handgun from my husband’s safe, walked out into the orchard, and shot himself in the head. It had been roughly two or three weeks since he had taken his last pill. His best friend was devastated. Our hearts have been ripped open. I don’t know if we’ll ever feel normal again.

I am looking for others who may know of suicides that occurred within weeks or months of “quitting” the drug. I realize that Prozac has helped many people. I have a couple of close friends that claim that Prozac really helped with their depression. Well tampons are great too, but even tampons have caused toxic shock syndrome in a few people. But the manufacturers of tampons didn’t try to hide that fact. There are warnings on every box of tampons. Or what about the small percentage of people who have severe reactions to nuts? Food products have to be very specific about the ingredients contained in their products for the protection of those few who might have an adverse reaction. Why did Eli Lilly refuse to put warnings on the drug insert labels? They have known all along about the reports of increased agitation and suicidal thoughts that were produced in some of their test studies.

My plea is for Eli Lilly to be responsible. My hope is that these drugs will only be dispensed under the careful supervision of a highly trained professional who understands all the risks! If it causes Eli Lilly’s profits to drop in half, so be it. My hope is that no family will have to go through the pain that we are day by day enduring. The only thing that sustains me is my belief in a just God. If justice is not meted out here, it certainly will be in the life to come. If there is anyone out there willing to help me in my desire to bring suit against Eli Lilly, please contact me as soon as possible. I want Eli Lilly to handle this drug responsibly or NOT AT ALL! I have read how this drug king has been shutting people up with money. Money will not shut me up! Money will not bring my baby back!

My name is Dawn Rider. You can e-mail me at drider@kotm.org. Or call me at (801) 221-9930 ext. 112 or ext. 138. I can also be reached at (801) 225-7459.

P.S. If you read my story, please share it with others.

Dawn Rider
drider@kotm.org
(801) 221-9930 ext. 112

 

2/16/2001

This is Survivor Story number 12.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

376 total views, 2 views today

Descent into Hell on Prozac

“But how do I live with the fact drugs took away five years of my life???”

 

Thanks for your e-mail on 5-31-95. I ordered your book and read it. The book was a real eye opener, and it perfectly described my own descent into hell from 1989 to 1994 due to meds (in particular Prozac). Initially, I was put on Prozac in Oct.1988 due to clinical depression. I was definitely depressed at the time and responded fairly well to the Prozac at first. Prior to Prozac, I had urges to hurt myself, but never really did. By January 1989, I was cutting myself up with everything I could find. This all consuming hurting binge resulted in frequent trips to ER, hospitalizations, etc. The thoughts would not stop and I would prowl around the house for hours looking for just the “right” thing to hurt myself with. I spent one whole year with my hemoglobin around 6-7 (my usual is 14) because of blood loss. Once I almost died. The frightening part is my psychiatrist just kept upping the Prozac, finally to 80mg and then added Anafranil, Melleril, Tegretol, klonopin, on and on. I wish I could fully describe this nightmare. I was labeled Borderline–Psychotic—OCD—Bi-polar. I was convinced by the doc that I was crazy and it was just taking time to find the right meds. NO ONE questioned that maybe the meds were the problem. As for me questioning it, I did and was told “no way.”

And I guess when someone is doing such bizarre stuff they start believing they are crazy, especially since I was so driven to do this stuff. Once I had a idea in my head, I had to do it. I have scars and skin grafts where I injected Drano into my body and skin grafts where I burned my hand to the bone with cigarettes. I was afraid I would hurt my kids…I had urges to shoot them with our rifle (we disposed of the rifle real quick) and I was afraid for them to come in the kitchen for fear I’d stab them. Your book brought back this nightmare. I just kept thinking as I read it “Oh, my God!”

In January 1994, my doc added Cytomel to boost the Prozac (and everything else I was on.) Then he added the Fastin and Pondimum (diet pills) because I had gained 50 pounds in a year (no wonder). Then I really did flip out. Think my brain finally said “enough is enough.” So the new doc took me off everything, slowly added low doses of Depakote and that was 14 months ago. I have been fine. No obsessive thoughts, no urges to hurt myself, no urges to kill my kids….I’m just about as “normal” as normal can be. I have a very successful private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Ann, after reading your book, I felt relieved to realize my “crazy” episode has little chance of returning since I’m convinced the reaction was med related. On the other hand, I feel really angry that my family and I went through hell for five years possibly due to medication. I also feel a little stupid since I’m in the mental health field and maybe should have caught on faster to the problem (I was to busy reading up on the DSM-III-R to check out each new diagnosis they gave me.) Not too long ago I tried to find an attorney who would help me recover the financial costs from that last hospitalization, because that I KNEW was not me, but rather mismanagement of meds and too many meds from the doc. But after I talked to three, I quit. Seems they are a little reluctant to take psych cases. But how do I live with the fact drugs took away five years of my life??? How do I explain this “Miraculous” recovery from obsessive thoughts of hurting, killing, etc.?? I don’t think someone comes out of that kind of 5 year hell, and be instantly cured by a low dose of Depakote. You did me a real favor…..a giant boost to my self-esteem.

So…you’ve heard my story…I realize probably just one in hundreds. Sorry this is so long. Sort of felt good to tell my story at last to someone other than a doc who will “label” me.

Thanks!! I will recommend your book to any clients I have who are on SSRI’s.

 

6/12/1995

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 40.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

465 total views, 1 views today