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Antidepressant Protest in Front of White House

by James Torlakson

I flew back to Washington, DC to participate in a protest focused on the often-lethal nature of SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and other atypical antidepressants, which took place in front of the White House on August 24th, 25th, and 26th. My twenty-one year old daughter, Elizabeth, committed “suicide” as a direct result of her use of the SSRI, Celexa. More than five thousand young people have committed violent suicides induced by their antide- pressants. Though known by those involved in this cause, it is just now reaching the media that the SSRIs have the same fatal effects on many adults of all ages.

The protest was initiated by Allan Routhier whose wife, Diane, shot herself in the head and died as a result of her SNRI (variation of SSRI), Wellbutrin. She had gone to the doctor for stomach pain and was put on Wellbutrin; which she had adverse reactions to so the doctors added an anti-psychotic drug. Three days later she committed suicide. Her autopsy revealed she had gallstones. Why was she put on antidepressants? Allan and his two young sons are asking the same question.

You would think a mother shooting herself in the head or my daughter allowing herself to be run over by a BART train would be about as horrible as it could get. Hardly! At the protest Dolores Mobley shared her granddaughter’s SSRI fate. Megan Blanchard, twenty years old, had sought relief for pain, which was the result of a car accident. Doctors put her on a drug cocktail which included the SSRIs, Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor XR. To make a long story short: when Megan (lost in a sea of drugs) attempted to withdraw from these pharmaceuticals, she tried to hang herself from a ceiling fan. When it came crashing down on her head, she proceeded to douse herself in lamp oil and lit herself on fire. She attempted to douse the flames in the bathtub, which only spread the fire. Somehow she managed to call 911. When help arrived they found her flaming in the front yard and the house was on fire. She lived through a thirty-minute rush to a burn center only then to die with second and third degree burns over 95% of her body. If you have the heart, visit www.drugawareness.org and press the “Experiences” button. The stories go on and on regarding suicides, homicides, complete personality changes, and withdrawal nightmares.

Pharmaceutical companies have suppressed the fact that SSRIs induce suicide in 2% of patients. The have buried the clinical trials which prove this ugly fact. In terms of efficacy, their best trials show that SSRIs help 20% of patients with depression. Many of the clinical trials show NO efficacy, as the SSRIs performed no better than placebos. In the best-case scenario, 80% of the patients using these drugs are running all the side effect risks with NO medical benefit. Statistically, you are twice as likely to die from using these drugs than if you did not use them. These drug companies are making tens of billions of dollars from the SSRIs. This is criminal, yet the F.D.A. all but looks the other way.

All of the protesters want the drug companies to tell the FULL truth regarding the dangerous side effects of these antidepressants, which include suicide, homicide, psychotic breakdowns, road rage, and horrendous withdrawal symptoms. All protesters are in favor of Senate Bills S.470 (making results of ALL clinical trials available to the public) and S.930 (conducting post market surveillance of drugs focusing on risk-benefit analyses and unreasonable risk). Both these bills will make vital changes in FDA procedures. We encourage the public to write to their Congressmen and Senators expressing support of these bills. All protesters want you to become informed of the dangers of SSRIs and a host of other pharmaceutical drugs. Patient self-investigation and self-education may well save your life or the life of a loved one.

Among those in attendance at the protest were survivors of SSRI suicide victims; parents of children who committed SSRI homicides and are now imprisoned; survivors of hellish SSRI withdrawals; wives whose husbands left their families as a result of pharmaceutically induced personality changes; Dr. Ann Blake Tracy author of PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? ; Linda Hurcombe, author of Losing A Child, whose daughter committed SSRI suicide; and Mark Taylor, a young Columbine survivor who was shot in the head by the S.S.R.I. killer student.

We were able to tell our stories to an Associated Press reporter, a reporter from United Press International, a man filming for Sixty Minutes, Susan Herold and William Vaughan of the Consumers Union, Tom Fussaro (Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Mike Ferguson, member of Subcommittee on Health), and the tourists who were viewing the White House.

Protesters flew in from around the United States and the United Kingdom. Nearly all wore the Truth Trust lapin pin (I created to help unify this cause) and carried poignant home crafted signs. So many of us who only knew each other via the internet got a chance to meet, share our stories, grief, and formulate a three point plan: 1) stop the Television advertising of psychotropic drugs, 2) make the public aware that the lethal risks apply to ALL age groups (not just children), 3) organize protests at State Capitols in all states.

I am glad I attended this three-day protest. I was able to support Allan Routhier and his sons, represent my daughter with Kathleen Bodnar (Elizabeth’s mother), and be a part of the growing movement to help save lives and bring about vital change regarding this pharmaceutical crisis. Though my experience was heart wrenching, at times, there was also warm conversation and even laughter. It is said that sometimes “Bad things happen to good people.” This couldn’t have been more true.