Editorial Note: Following a redesign of the website in 2015, the Suicide Zone mentioned in this article now works differently. You can search for suicide related side effects in the Drugs A-Z section. Side effects can be reported using the main “Report a Side Effect” function.
Toronto, Ontario (November 19, 2012) — RxISK.org, the first free independent website for researching and reporting prescription drug side effects, has added a Suicide Zone to demonstrate and collect data on the links between prescription drugs and suicidal thoughts and behavior.
According to the World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health, each year more than 1.6 million people lose their lives to violence, with 50% of these deaths classified as suicides. Self-inflicted injuries are the fourth leading cause of death, the sixth leading cause of ill-health and disability, and the leading cause of death for people aged 15-35 years.
“Suicide is the deliberate termination of one’s existence while in the possession and enjoyment of his or her mental faculties. Taking one’s own life under the influence of drugs is death by misadventure, not suicide,” says Dr. David Healy, a world-renowned psychiatrist who has written extensively about the lack of data in evidence-based medicine, including in his latest book, Pharmageddon. “This has huge legal, financial, insurance, and religious implications, as well as being of great importance to family and friends.”
“Taking one’s own life under the influence of drugs is death by misadventure, not suicide.”
Healy says that the risk of suicide is greatest when a patient begins or stops taking a prescription drug. “Similar to space shuttle travel, the riskiest periods for many drug side effects are entry into treatment and exit from it.”
The Suicide Zone allows users to enter the name of a prescription drug and see the side effects relating to suicidal acts and thoughts that have been reported to the FDA’s MedWatch System since 2004, as well as to RxISK, for more than 35,000 drug names from 103 countries. The data is presented in tables, tag clouds, heat maps, and interactive graphs, showing what’s happening with other people taking the same drug around the world and in a user’s community.
Users can then select the effect(s) they are experiencing and click on Report a Drug Side Effect to complete a report. This will add their anonymized experience to the RxISK database so that others can benefit from this information, as well as provide them with a personalized RxISK Report linking their symptoms and meds, which they can take to their doctor or pharmacist to facilitate a better treatment conversation.
Dr. Dee Mangin, Data Based Medicine’s Chief Medical Officer and a professor and Director of Research in the Department of Public Health and General Practice at the University of Otago in New Zealand, says, “Suicide has traditionally been attributed to anti-depressants like Prozac and Paxil, anti-psychotics like Seroquel and Zpyrexa, and some anti-seizure drugs. But the range of drugs now linked to suicide has grown, including drugs used in smoking cessation, dermatology, asthma, weight loss, insomnia, and malaria.”
RxISK.org is owned and operated by Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd. (DBM), based in Toronto, Canada. DBM’s founders have international reputations in early drug-side-effect detection and risk mitigation, pharmacovigilance, and patient-centered care. Although drug side effects are known to be a leading cause of death and disability, less than 5% of serious drug side effects are reported. DBM’s mission is to capture this missing data directly from patients through RxISK’s free drug side effect reporting tool and use this data to help make medicines safer for all of us.
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