Suicide on Pain-Killers: John’s Story

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June 4, 2013 | 17 Comments


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your husband’s story. Although it must be hard to talk about, it may just save a life! I work with a lot of people with back injuries in the workers compensation system, and Flexeril is as common as water – it’s classified as a “muscle relaxant” and is regarded as a fairly benign drug I think — the worst I’d ever heard before this was that it made folks sleepy. Thanks for pointing out that it’s a close cousin to tricyclic antidepressants—I never realized! It’s also an “anticholinergic” which makes it capable of causing a lot of mental confusion, dizziness etc. if it gets too concentrated.

    One of the problems with a drug like this is that very few people are only taking this one drug. Too often people with chronic back pain are taking an opiate (or two); an anticonvulsant; a “muscle relaxant” which could be Flexeril, Skelaxin or the seriously habit-forming Soma (carisoprodol); a benzo and/or sedative-hypnotic for sleep; and maybe an antidepressant and an antipsychotic as well, if they’ve begun to feel like life’s not worth living (is it any wonder?) There’s a huge risk of strange drug interactions that can bring out the worst effects of any one drug, and the older we get the harder it is for our bodies to handle it. Some patients have a surgeon, a GP, a “pain specialist” and a shrink writing scripts, and none of these characters are talking to the others. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.

  2. Thank you for writing about your husband John – I can fully understand how a person can be swept away by a drug’s side effects to the point where you are in a place where suicide becomes an option. At this point your own thoughts are being controlled by the drug.
    After being on Enbrel for 4 years for Rheumatoid Arthritis, I developed hallucinatory and auditory side effects. I became very uninhibited, which actually felt quite enjoyable at the time. I created the most unusual stories and my imagination ran riot.
    The voices I had begun to hear 24 hours a day- gradually over a period of time commanded me to consider suicidal options- I argued constantly against the commands- even choosing two possible options for suicide- (overdose and crashing the car in a place which wouldn’t harm anyone else) But at the same time I would ‘tell’ these voices that I wouldn’t be actually committing suicide however, these were the choices I could make – hoping this would alleviate the pressure from the commands and they would just go away!
    I even asked my GP – on a visit about something routine if he believed people could be telepathic- to which he didn’t pick up on my reason for questioning and made the comment
    that it was neither impossible or possible. So I carried on.
    Eventually I was caught up in a loop when the commands would continuously be thrown my way and I would respond by saying in my mind- I would not be carrying out the orders. This happened over and over again.
    This lead me to one day – just getting up and taking myself down to the police station to report whoever it was giving me these commands! I demanded that MI5 should be informed! It was all seemingly very real. I had had enough>
    I was still completely oblivious to what was causing this phenomenon and convinced I could sort it out by myself.
    My head raging and banging with these constant ‘voices’ I arrived in A&E- sympathetically escorted by the police and was admitted to hospital.
    After the appropriate medicine was given to me – it all started to calm down- leaving me to then sort out the aftershock that followed- feeling like Alice having been pulled from the rabbit hole minus everything I originally went into it with- I set about repairing my mind’s balance -.with the help of an excellent team of mental health experts and a lot of determination on my part. .
    I feel the medical profession should never underestimate the power of drugs and their ability to take over a person’s mind- to the point , for some , like John, of no return.
    I was lucky – not everyone has been or will be.
    Suicide caused by drugs needs to be acknowledged.
    People need to be aware and motivated to check out the drugs they are being prescribed and then to challenge their GPs or Consultants if necessary.
    But once caught up in the unrelenting labyrinth of a drug’s mind bending power- it isn’t easy to escape.

  3. I read the cyclobenzaprine adverse reaction database in Canada after almost having a heart attack or stroke but they probably shouldn’t have been giving me Tramadol at the same time. Most reactions are death, it is scary since it seems to have few side-effects.
    I have almost committed suicide on Ciprofloxacin because I could not get medical care and could not stand the pain.

  4. My gorgeous fiance took his own life nearly seven weeks ago. He was suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and taking Sulfasalazine. He had no history of depression whatsoever. he had been taking these tablets for approx two months. we think, after searching the internet that there is a link. Any help… please????

  5. This to happened to me. I had several buldging disks in my cervical vertebra. I was prescribed 2 a day. It made me very sleepy but I was in so much pain I continued to take as prescribed. A week later I became extremely suicidal and had it not been for my daughter calling a friend of mine to come help I would not be here today. The fact that I put my daughter in that situation is totally not me. I warn everyone I know who has be prescribed this medication.

  6. I have been prescribed cyclobenzaprine Flexeril for lower back pain. After three days at the prescribed dose I was extremely suicidal with crying jags and the overwhelming need to put an end to my mental anguish. None of my physician’s were aware of this potential side effect. I occasionally take cyclobenzaprine at 1/4 the recommended dose (again for lower back pain). If I take it for more than two days running I experience the same hortible feelings. It’s like clockwork. And even understanding that it’s an effect of the drug doesn’t help. It’s a very out-of-control feeling.

    Please use extreme caution if you or your loved ones are taking this drug.

  7. Thank you for writing about this..I have been on this drug only 2 days and taken only two doses. In that time, I got in trouble at work for an oversight and miscommunication which has never happened, hit a construction cone when driving which has also never happened, and when I saw that my husband has been massively binge drinking, I had suicidal thoughts. I wouldn’t do it, but I was curious if all this stuff was related to this med. I don’t think I’m going to be taking it anymore. It’s also made me really irritable, aggressive, short fused (I know it’s all basically the same), and somewhat depressed. And now I can’t sleep. I don’t feel like they should give this drug to anyone with a history of anxiety or depression or sleep disorder. I’m under 30.

    • Sorry three doses, not two. The side effects showed up after the third dose. I had no trouble with the first two.

      • And I forgot to mention, extremely groggy even after it should wear off. My body feels like a brick. My thoughts are really disconnected which is probably why I’ve made so many posts sorry. I need a day for my body to detox this crap so I can feel like myself again.

    • I took muscle relaxers after a wreck, off and on, due to depression caused by the pills. My doctor’s continued to give lower strength relaxers but I continued to have suicidal thoughts. I have a Wonderful Life and beautiful children. I would spiral down into the depression before I could stop it. My husband would find me laying on the floor staring out the windows with tears slowly streaming down my face. I had no control over the sad thoughts. I tried to stem them with all of my blessings, but I still felt like there was no hope in the world.
      I gave up on the muscle relaxers. I did end up with several surgeries, but avoided the pills.
      Eventually I saw a doctor that insisted on me trying children’s muscle relaxers. She said I must have a “problem with depression” and added depression to my case. I argued against it, but she cited her degrees from very big universities and all her studies. I tried the pills and within 2 days I was laying on the floor again.
      Fortunately, I am married and have a wonderful husband that watched for the symptoms and double backed to check on me often after leaving the house. Otherwise, I don’t know that I would have even made the link to the pills.
      I am still injured and decided to give a pill a try last night after 2 years and here I am on the internet looking up the cause of the depression. Now, I see, it was not just me. It is the pill side affects causing actual suicidal thoughts. I don’t suffer from depression. I am a happy person with a wonderful world. These pills do not remove the wonderful world, they just create such lack of hope that I become a mess of hopeless suicidal thoughts.
      So, glad to know that this info is getting out there. Doctor’s really pressured me to continue to take the pills. They seemed oblivious to the facts about the depression the pills cause. The last young doctor that was so arrogant really used high pressure sales tactics to get me to use the pills. My husband had to go with me into doctor’s offices and fight to get a different method of treatment for my injuries.
      What I really needed was surgeries for torn ligaments, but the doctors had to follow protocols for the insurance to approve the surgeries. Muscle relaxers were part of the protocol.

    • Hi jess, I’m a veteran and been doing intensive care for 14 mi the. I hurt my back at work in September 2016 I attempted suicide with15 flexril in October . I was in the parking lot of the hospital when I did it. I started walking to the door but never made it. The security guard found me outside. I was uncounsious and not breathing . A day later I woke up intubated and on life support . The drs told me flexril stops yours lungs. I put my body such shock. I made it but had severe loss of short term memory and still have some effects and trachea infection from the ventilation tubes. I felt fine days before and was so impulsive but I’m still seeking help for my depression

  8. I was having serious lower back pain out of nowhere. On a scale of 1-10 the pain could easily be at a 8 or 9. This pain went on for 3 weeks for me. I’m young only 29 didn’t get hurt in a accident or anything but I could barely get up to use the bathroom without being in so much pain and having to walk like a huntchback everywhere. I finally decided I needed to go to a doctor before my back got much worse. I told the doctor all the drugs I had been taking in the time my back pain started. 1 of the drugs the doctor prescribed me was cyclobenzaprine. The first day I took it, it seemed to work how it should. The pill made the pain in my back bareable for that first night. The next day my back pain felt worse than before. For the next 4 days I took the recommended dose but it didn’t seem to do anything for me. On the morning of day 5 I woke up feeling extremely depressed and had severe anxiety. I was crying for about an hour. I have never felt like this in my entire life and I’ve experienced some harder drugs in my younger adult life at 18-20 years of age. I decided that morning I wouldn’t be taking the drug anymore. Having experienced how bad of depression it gave me I have no doubt it would cause some people to become suicidal.

  9. I was perscribed Flexeril for cervical and spinal stenosis/herniated disk. I also have been diagnosed with BPD & PTSD.

    Two years ago, I took about 50 flexeril and ended up in a coma with 48 hours to survive. My doctor is very aware of my mental illness and it is marked on my charts.

    Yet, I am able to refill perscription anytime. I just reordered it.

  10. This may have helped save my life. Thank you for sharing. I will quit taking cyclobenzaprine and pray the side effects, including suicidal thoughts, stop.

  11. Thank you for your story. I took a cyclobenzaprine last night. I am almost overwhelming depressed today. I am struggling every moment today. I will not take it again tonight.

    • I would read my comment I just had a suicide attempt in October which left me on life support and intubation from taking 15 flexril . It stopped all my breathing

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