‘Simplistic’ therapy approach to suicide criticised in new study

Staff Reporter

A study that found that two thirds of people who died of probable suicide were not taking prescribed medications when they died “opens a window onto the fact that people dying from suicide are not adhering to treatment”, according to a leading psychiatrist.

The NUI Galway study of 153 deaths in the west between 2006 and 2012 revealed that 58 people had been receiving treatment for mental health issues. Toxicology screening detected antidepressants in just nine of the 28 people with a documented history of depression, while anti-psychotic agents were detected in only one of the five people with schizophrenia.

Mater Hospital psychiatrist Professor Patricia Casey told The Irish Catholic that although “the numbers were small, it does cover a limited period, and the study needs to be replicated”, she said it was “highly likely” that similar patterns could be found nationally and internationally.

“We know that generally people don’t adhere to medication”, she said, adding that “the antipathy to medication for mental health problems is a cultural thing”.

“For years the public has been under the impression or of the opinion that medication is bad and that talking therapy is good, and if we have enough talk therapy there wouldn’t be any need for medication. That simplistic view is wrong,” she said, pointing out that in dealing with severe psychiatric illnesses, “medication is absolutely essential”.