Heartbroken mum had 'no idea' about Prozac's side effects, inquest hears
Drug carries a "black label" warning in the US, mum says
Published 31/05/2014 | 16:38
"NO mother in her right mind would let their child have a drug that can cause suicide and self-harm when they are suffering from those symptoms in the first place."
These are the heartbreaking words of Stephanie McGill-Lynch, whose 14-year-old son Jake took his own life.
Ms McGill Lynch told his inquest that she had no idea about the side effects of Prozac and that she would never have agreed to him taking it if she had.
Jake McGill-Lynch, of Woodford Terrace, Clondalkin, died at Tallaght Hospital on March 20 last year as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in early 2012 and suffered from anxiety issues.
He had been seeing a psychologist at Clondalkin Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and was referred to a psychiatrist in January 2013 following concerns that his anxiety was increasing due to his upcoming Junior Cert.
The inquest heard that consultant child psychiatrist Dr Maria Migone prescribed Prozac to help with the anxiety.
Ms McGill-Lynch said that she and her husband were not informed that side effects of Prozac include an increase in suicidal ideation. When they collected the prescription from the pharmacist, no patient information leaflet was included.
She said that in the US Prozac carries a "black label" warning that it should be given to under-18s who have experienced anxiety problems only after all other avenues are exhausted.
"My child is dead. I was not told this could happen," she told Dublin Coroner's Court.
"My husband and I were not given any literature off the HSE or CAMHS or the pharmacist.
"If we were, there is no mother in her right mind going to let their child have a drug that can cause suicide and self-harm when they are suffering from those symptoms in the first place.
"Asperger's is not an illness, it is a condition - no tablet or medication is going to fix."
Dr Migone said the US black label was based on a meta-analysis carried out in 2003, but subsequent studies found no increase in suicidal ideation in young people with anxiety taking Prozac.
The Irish Medicines Board contacted doctors in 2003 to say that having studied the class of medications affected, they recommended Prozac as being the safest in children under-18, she told the court.
Jake was accompanied by his father, John Lynch, when Dr Migone prescribed the Prozac.
She said that she would have discussed some side effects and said that Ms McGill-Lynch should feel free to call her with any questions having read the patient information leaflet that would come with the Prozac.
Ms McGill-Lynch also pointed out that only Mr Lynch had signed the consent form. Dr Migone said that it was her understanding that Ms McGill-Lynch was in favour of the medication.
The court also heard that Jake was in an online relationship with an American girl and they had broken up a few days prior to this death. Dr Migone said that relationship breakdown is a known "stressor".
Jake and his mother were members of a gun club. He had struggled to enjoy other sports and took to shooting very well, Ms McGill-Lynch said.
On the night of his death, he asked his parents to take the gun out of secure storage so that he could practise holding it.
The ammunition was stored separately in a toolbox in Jake's room and Ms McGill-Lynch said that they forgot to take it. Mr Lynch said that it was an oversight.
They discovered that Jake had shot himself when Mr Lynch called him to have his nightly supper but got no response.
They did not hear the gunshot, the court heard.
Mr Lynch started CPR immediately. Jake was taken to Tallaght Hospital but died that night.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that a "farewell" note found on Jake's bed was "extremely profound" and showed "great understanding" for everyone involved.
The inquest was adjourned to July 14 for further evidence.
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