Suicides and homicides caused by antidepressants

Prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.1 Major killers are arthritis drugs and psychiatric drugs, and what is particularly tragic is that many of those who died didn’t need the drugs.1 In many cases, they shouldn’t have been treated, as there wasn’t any legitimate indication for treatment, or they would have been fine without drugs.

Psychotropic drugs can lead to violence, including homicide. An analysis of adverse drug events submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2004 and 2009 identified 1937 cases of violence, 387 of which were homicide.1 Violence was particularly often reported for psychotropic drugs (antidepressants, sedatives/hypnotics, ADHD drugs and a smoking cessation drug that also affects brain functions).

Antidepressant drugs can cause an extreme form of restlesness called akathisia, which predisposes to suicide and homicide. Drug agencies all over the world warn against using SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) in children and adolescents because of the increased risk of suicide. Nonetheless, many leading psychiatrists dispute that SSRIs have this effect and some psychiatrists and drug companies even claim that they protect against suicide in children and adolescents referring to observational studies that are so flawed that they cannot justify such a conclusion. In contrast, the FDA’s analysis of the randomised trials has clearly shown that SSRIs increase the risk of suicidal behaviour in children and adolescents, even though a lot of suicides and suicide attempts on active drugs were missing in FDA’s analysis.1 The problem is therefore far worse than what the FDA reported.

There is no upper age limit for violent actions, which may happen at any age. I have met with several parents that have lost a child and spouses that have lost a husband or a wife to an SSRI in the most meaningless way. Hundreds or thousands of such tragic losses have been described on the Internet, and I shall contribute to this literature, with the parents’ and spouses’ permission, on my blog.

A thousand deaths are a faceless statistic. But when we describe what happened to real people who were once with us, other people tend to pay attention. One of the mothers wrote to me: “I know you agree with me that this has got to stop.” Yes, it must stop, and in my view, it should be forbidden to use antidepressant drugs in children and adolescents, also because they likely have no beneficial effect.1,2 In fact, it can be disputed – based on the randomised trials – whether antidepressants work for depression at any age.1-4 My hope is that the tragic stories will help wake people up to what is happening in psychiatry.

1 Gøtzsche PC. Deadly medicines and organised crime: How big pharma has corrupted health care. London: Radcliffe Publishing; 2013.

2 Gøtzsche PC. Why I think antidepressants cause more harm than good. Lancet Psychiatry 2014;1:104-6 (available at

3 Moncrieff J, Wessely S, Hardy R. Active placebos versus antidepressants for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;1:CD003012.

4 Leucht S, Fennema H, Engel R, et al. What does the HAMD mean? J Affect Disord 2013;148:243-8.