Original article no longer available
10 May 2003
The parents of a teenager who hanged himself while on an anti-depressant are to talk about their grief in a BBC documentary this weekend. Dawn and Chris Keegan, of Market Drayton, will appear on Panorama tomorrow to say they blame Seroxat – and widespread ignorance surrounding the drug – for their son’s suicide 18 months ago.
The couple say Adrian, aged 19, was a fun-loving popular teenager before he was prescribed the drug to improve his anger management. But they say less than three weeks after starting medication he became quiet and withdrawn, and within a month he hung himself with a belt. Seroxat is prescribed for depression and shyness, but tomorrow night’s television show claims it is linked with violence, addiction, self-harm and suicide.
GlaxoSmithKline, the company behind the drug, says in the programme it has sympathy for anybody suffering side effects but point out that millions of patients around the world currently benefit enormously from it.
Chris and Dawn say they wanted to feature in the documentary to highlight what they believe are the drug’s side effects. Chris said today: “Adrian was just a normal teenager, getting drunk sometimes and in a relationship with a girlfriend. Being an ordinary teenager, he would get into trouble sometimes, so we took him to the doctor for anger management.
“He was prescribed the drug and at the time we were oblivious to what anti-depressants were. “During the second week after taking Seroxat, Adrian was unbelievably happy. Then the next week he was very quiet. He was not our son at all.
“When he died it was the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced in my life. I still get nightmares now – it has affected me, my wife and the whole family.
“I am so angry, I daren’t say what I feel like doing. My son’s life has ended and it has ripped a big hole out of my heart.”
An inquest last year recorded a verdict of suicide, although toxicology reports said there was no narcotics present in Adrian’s blood when he died. Chris said he hoped the programme would help reduce ignorance over the drug.
He added: “My advice would be to make sure you read the leaflets about this drug. I don’t know how many people read the information you receive inside a packet of tablets – but it should be the first thing anybody does.”
Panorama – Seroxat: Emails from the Edge is on BBC1 tomorrow at 10.15pm. The programme received 67,000 phone calls in response to its original show in October.