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Paxil likely played important role in teen’s suicide
June 21, 2010
By SAM PAZZANO, QMI Agency
TORONTO – There is “powerful evidence” the tragic suicide of Oakville, Ont. teen Sara Carlin was caused by an anti-depressant drug – more than her use of alcohol and cocaine, a coroner’s jury was told Monday.
Lawyer Gary Will, who represents the Carlin family, said Paxil “played a very important role and it might have been contributor” with other factors in the May 6, 2007 suicide of the outstanding athlete and scholar.
The 18-year-old girl had been taking Paxil for 14 months before she hanged herself in the basement of her parents’ Oakville home.
“She took her life in a most horrible, violent way. And these antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, including Paxil) induce suicides that are often violent,” Will told the jury in his closing comments.
Carlin’s parents are blaming the drug for her death.
Will said Paxil was proven to be both ineffective and dangerous for patients under 19 years old, yet neither Sara nor her parents were informed of its risks or ineffectiveness.
Twenty-six Canadian teen suicides have been attributed to Paxil since 1993 and that number could swell due to under-reporting, said Will.
“Sara isn’t the only one. It has happened to hundreds, possibly thousands and possibly tens of thousands of young people around the world,” said Will.
The use of Paxil for minors “was skyrocketing from 2005 through 2008, an increase of 250%,” said Will.
Health Canada issued warnings in 2003 and 2004 that prescribing antidepressants to teens could lead to behavioural or emotional changes that might put them at increased risk of suicidal behaviour.
A year before her death, Sara complained of anxiety and depression to her family doctor and had been prescribed Paxil.
Her father said Sara, a top-of-the-class student and athlete, was suffering from teenage anxiety from the pressure of performing at a high level. She showed no signs of depression, but was prescribed an anti-depressant medication, said Neil Carlin.
Sara’s downward spiral included using cocaine and binge drinking, quitting her University of Western Ontario second-year course and her job.
Sara’s parents, Rhonda and Neil, never knew of the adverse effects of Paxil on teens before her tragic death, said Will.
The inquest will conclude Tuesday as coroner Dr. Bert Lauwers gives the jury his final instructions or charge.