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Summertime… and Psychiatric Drugs Can Put You At Risk

Here in the West, we got a taste of summer heat in June and there is surely more to come. Be aware that if you are taking psychotropic medications, you are at special risk to heat effects and should know the steps you need to take to stay safe. Individuals with chronic medical conditions (i.e., heart and pulmonary disease, diabetes, alcoholism, etc.) are especially vulnerable.

No matter what the temperature is outside, psychotropic medications affect the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. But during a heat wave, individuals taking antipsychotic medications are especially at risk of developing excessive body temperature, or hyperthermia, which can be fatal. You should know the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke and what to do if the heat starts getting to you.

First of all, there are simple precautions you can take:

  • Try to stay cool:
    • Stay in air-conditioned areas if possible. If you do not have air conditioning at home, go to a shopping mall or public library.
    • Keep windows shut and draperies, shades, or blinds drawn during the heat of the day.
    • Open windows in the evening or night hours when the air outside is cooler.
    • Move to cooler rooms during the heat of the day.
  • Avoid overexertion and outdoor activity, particularly during warmer periods of the day.
  • Apply sunscreen and lotion as needed.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol).
  • Dress in loose fitting, light colored clothing. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Eat regular meals to ensure that you have adequate salt and fluids.

Understand the risk of the drugs you take. Psychotropic drugs have specific warnings from the manufacturer to avoid excessive heat and dehydration. If you have questions, check with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

If you or anyone you know has experienced harmful side effects from psychiatric drugs, [we want to talk to you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Stay safe this summer!

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General News

For Mental Health Month: The Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights

All human rights organizations set forth codes by which they align their purposes and activities. The Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights articulates the guiding principles and goals of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

In 2017, Dr. Dainius Pūras, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, called for a revolution in mental health care around the world to “end decades of neglect, abuse and violence,” and stating

“There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist.”

Human rights include the right to one’s own mind, and to protect oneself and one’s loved ones against any abusive or harmful “treatments” given under the guise of mental health.

Every man, woman and child is entitled to the fundamental human rights set forth in this Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights, regardless of race, political ideology, religious, cultural or social beliefs.

Given the fact that virtually no human or civil rights specifically protects citizens from mental health abuses, it is vital that the following rights be recognized and that all countries adopt this Declaration.

  1. The right to full informed consent, including:
  2. The scientific/medical test confirming any alleged diagnoses of psychiatric disorder and the right to refute any psychiatric diagnoses of mental “illness” that cannot be medically confirmed.
  3. Full disclosure of all documented risks of any proposed drug or mental “treatment.”
  4. The right to be informed of all available medical treatments which do not involve the administration of a psychiatric drug or treatment.
  5. The right to refuse psychiatric drugs documented by international drug regulatory agencies to be harmful and potentially lethal.
  6. The right to refuse to undergo electroshock or psycho-surgery.
  7. No person shall be forced to undergo any psychiatric or psychological treatment against his or her will.
  8. No person, man, woman or child, may be denied his or her personal liberty by reason of mental illness, without a fair jury trial by laymen and with proper legal representation.
  9. No person shall be admitted to or held in a psychiatric institution, hospital or facility because of their political, religious or cultural or social beliefs and practices.
  10. Any patient has:
  11. The right to be treated with dignity as a human being.
  12. The right to hospital amenities without distinction as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, social origin or status by right of birth or property.
  13. The right to have a thorough, physical and clinical examination by a competent registered general practitioner of one’s choice, to ensure that one’s mental condition is not caused by any undetected and untreated physical illness, injury or defect, and the right to seek a second medical opinion of one’s choice.
  14. The right to fully equipped medical facilities and appropriately trained medical staff in hospitals, so that competent physical, clinical examinations can be performed.
  15. The right to choose the kind or type of therapy to be employed, and the right to discuss this with a general practitioner, healer or minister of one’s choice.
  16. The right to have all the side effects of any offered treatment made clear and understandable to the patient, in written form and in the patient’s native language.
  17. The right to accept or refuse treatment but in particular, the right to refuse sterilization, electroshock treatment, insulin shock, lobotomy (or any other psychosurgical brain operation), aversion therapy, narcotherapy, deep sleep therapy and any drugs producing unwanted side effects.
  18. The right to make official complaints, without reprisal, to an independent board which is composed of non-psychiatric personnel, lawyers and lay people. Complaints may encompass any torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment received while under psychiatric care.
  19. The right to have private counsel with a legal advisor and to take legal action.
  20. The right to discharge oneself at any time and to be discharged without restriction, having committed no offense.
  21. The right to manage one’s own property and affairs with a legal advisor, if necessary, or if deemed incompetent by a court of law, to have a State appointed executor to manage such until one is adjudicated competent. Such executor is accountable to the patient’s next of kin, or legal advisor or guardian.
  22. The right to see and possess one’s hospital records and to take legal action with regard to any false information contained therein which may be damaging to one’s reputation.
  23. The right to take criminal action, with the full assistance of law enforcement agents, against any psychiatrist, psychologist or hospital staff for any abuse, false imprisonment, assault from treatment, sexual abuse or rape, or any violation of mental health or other law. And the right to a mental health law that does not indemnify or modify the penalties for criminal, abusive or negligent treatment of patients committed by any psychiatrist, psychologist or hospital staff.
  24. The right to sue psychiatrists, their associations and colleges, the institution, or staff for unlawful detention, false reports, or damaging treatment.
  25. The right to work or to refuse to work, and the right to receive just compensation on a pay-scale comparable to union or state/national wages for similar work, for any work performed while hospitalized.
  26. The right to education or training so as to enable one better to earn a living when discharged, the right of choice over what kind of education or training is received.
  27. The right to receive visitors and a minister of one’s own faith.
  28. The right to make and receive telephone calls and the right to privacy with regard to all personal correspondence to and from anyone.
  29. The right to freely associate or not with any group or person in a psychiatric institution, hospital or facility.
  30. The right to a safe environment without having in the environment, persons placed there for criminal reasons.
  31. The right to be with others of one’s own age group.
  32. The right to wear personal clothing, to have personal effects and to have a secure place in which to keep them.
  33. The right to daily physical exercise in the open.
  34. The right to a proper diet and nutrition and to three meals a day.
  35. The right to hygienic conditions and non-overcrowded facilities, and to sufficient, undisturbed leisure and rest.

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News for Colorado

Suspect In Deadly Westminster Road-Rage Shooting Started Taking Psychiatric Drug Earlier That Day

The man charged in the June 14 shooting in a Westminster parking lot that killed one boy and wounded three other people in an apparent road rage incident told police he had started taking a prescribed psychiatric drug the day of the incident.

Jeremy John Webster, 23, allegedly shot a 13-year-old boy to death, critically injured the boy’s mother and 8-year-old brother, and wounded an unrelated man in a nearby pickup truck.

A third son in the family, who was able to run away, told police that after his mother and Webster had an argument at a nearby intersection, Webster followed the family’s vehicle into a parking lot, where the shooting occurred.

Westminster police say Webster did not know any of the victims.  Before this incident, Webster had never been charged with a crime in Colorado.

The Denver Channel reports that a search warrant affidavit in the case says Webster told police he “has mental health issues and just started a new prescribed medication.”

It is not known whether Webster may also have been on other psychiatric drugs.

If the criminal allegations and the report of Webster’s psychiatric drug use are true, the shooting would become the latest in a long line of acts of extreme violence linked to psychiatric drugs.

Psychiatric drugs have well-known side effects of aggression, violence and even homicidal thoughts.

Psychiatric drugs were found disproportionately linked to acts of violence in a 2010 analysis of prescription drug side-effects data from the Food and Drug Administration’s adverse event reporting system.

There are at least 28 warnings from international drug regulatory agencies and numerous research studies concerning the violence-related effects of psychiatric drugs.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or to change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

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News for Colorado

Mother Who Killed Her Kids Before Committing Suicide Was On Antidepressants

The Highlands Ranch mother who recently shot and killed her two young sons before turning the gun on herself was on antidepressants, making the incident yet another stunningly tragic act of violence linked to psychiatric drugs.

Jennifer Laber had two antidepressants, desmethylvenlafaxine and bupropion, in her system when she took the lives of her sons, ages 3 and 5, and then ended her own life on November 29, according to the autopsy report released by the Douglas County Coroner’s Office.

Desmethylvenlafaxine, marketed as Pristiq among other trade names, has known side effects that include depression and suicidal thoughts and actions.  Pristiq was ranked #10 on the list of the top 10 prescription drugs most linked to violence compiled by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in 2010, after analyzing reports of drug side effects filed with the FDA.

The other antidepressant Laber was taking, bupropion, is marketed as Wellbutrin and Zyban among other trade names, and its known side effects include suicidal thoughts and attempts and thoughts of hurting or killing others.

Laber also was taking the anti-convulsant drug lamotrigine, marketed under the trade name Lamictal, which is sometimes prescribed for depression.  Known side effects of Lamictal include changes in mood, aggression, depression, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.

The 38-year-old mother was prescribed all three of these drugs despite her long history of depression, which included suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, according to the autopsy report.

Laber is not the first Colorado mother on antidepressants who killed her children.

Stephanie Rochester, a 34-year old mother in Superior, was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft the week before she smothered her infant son in his crib in 2011.

A 38-year-old Lamar mother, Rebekah Amaya, was on antidepressants when she drowned her 6-month-old son and 4-year-old daughter in their bathtub in 2003.

To date, 160 drug regulatory agency warnings from 11 countries and 225 research studies from 31 countries have warned about antidepressants’ dangerous side effects, which include:

  • suicide, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal attempts
  • hostility, violence or aggression
  • self-harm
  • mania or psychosis
  • hallucinations or delusions
  • depression
  • homicide and homicidal thoughts

Half of the top 10 prescription drugs most linked to violence are antidepressants, according to the 2010 study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Research Showing Antidepressants Are Neither Safe Nor Effective

Numerous research studies point to antidepressants being harmful, ineffective, and an obstacle to recovery from depression.  Among the more recent studies:

  • Researchers in a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that antidepressants can cause chronic and deepening depression in adults and suggest that discontinuing the drugs is the solution. (See important “Warning” below on discontinuing antidepressants.)
  • A 2012 report from the Associate Director of the Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School, an expert who has studied the effects of placebos (pills with no drug in them, or “sugar pills”) for 36 years, has concluded that antidepressants are no more effective than sugar pills for most people – and the placebo has none of antidepressants’ dangerous side effects.
  • In a 2012 research paper published in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology, a team of researchers reviewing previous studies of the effects of antidepressants concluded that, by disrupting many different processes in the body that are regulated by serotonin, antidepressants are actually doing patients more harm than good.
  • In a 2015 study posted by the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, researchers who reviewed prior research on antidepressants concluded the unproven theory that low levels of the brain chemical serotonin cause depression appears to be wrong, and that the best available evidence appears to show there is more serotonin in depressed individuals, not less – which actually makes antidepressants an obstacle to recovery from depression.

An epidemic of mothers killing their children – and doing so by more and more violent methods – began in the early 1990’s, according to Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness.  “These [mothers] were often described as the very best and most caring mothers,” she notes.

What was driving these mothers to such violence?  “The most common denominator was the use of an antidepressant by the mother who had killed her children,” Tracy said.

Antidepressants Are The Most Common Denominator in Mass Murders

Beyond the tragic instances of mothers taking the lives their children, antidepressants are the most frequent common denominator in other “inexplicable” acts of violence and mass murder.

At least 35 school-related acts of violence in the U.S., including at least 14 school shootings, have been committed by individuals taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants.  (In other school shootings, information about the shooters’ psychiatric drug use was not released.)

In Colorado, shooters in the mass murders at Columbine High School and at an Aurora movie theater were driven by antidepressants.

Tracy points out that the same common denominator of antidepressants is found in other mass murders, such as the mass murders committed by the truck driver who plowed into a crowd and killed 84 people this past summer in France, the German Wings co-pilot who deliberately crashed his jet into the French Alps and killed 150 people in 2015, and the bus driver who crashed into the wall of a Swiss tunnel and killed 28 people in 2012.

Tracy, an expert who frequently testifies on the adverse effects of antidepressants, points out that antidepressant drugs are most similar in action to the hallucinogens LSD and PCP.

“Neither homicide nor suicide is an acceptable ‘side effect’ to what we are calling safe and effective ‘medications,’” she said.

Warning: Anyone wishing to discontinue an antidepressant or any other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know experienced violence or suicidal thoughts or actions from taking an antidepressant or any other psychiatric drugs, please report it to the FDA by clicking here.  And we want to talk to you about your experience.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept strictly confidential.

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News for Colorado

Columbine: A Permanent Reminder That Psychiatric Drugs Can Turn Kids Into Killers

The 13th anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, is a time to remember the real lesson of Columbine: psychiatric drugs can turn kids into killers.

 Shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.

There is at least one public report that Klebold had also been taking antidepressants.  A friend of Klebold claims she witnessed him taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft and urged him to come off them.  Officially, Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.

Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft are in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  The FDA is among the international regulatory agencies issuing warnings on SSRIs.  Its Public Health Advisory issued in 2004 warned:

“Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia [severe restlessness], hypomania [abnormal excitement, mild mania] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas] have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants.”

International studies and warnings about antidepressants can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.

Psych Dugs Dominate List of 10 Most Violence-Inducing Drugs

Luvox, Paxil and other antidepressants are ranked among the top 10 most violence-inducing prescription drugs in a list compiled by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.  The list is based on data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System.

Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and author of Prozac: Panacea of Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare, is an expert consultant in cases like Columbine in which antidepressants are involved.  Dr. Tracy say the Columbine killers’ brains were awash in serotonin, the chemical which causes violence and aggression and triggers a sleep-walking disorder in which a person literally acts out their worst nightmare.

Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts “within weeks” after he began taking Zoloft, according to Dr. Tracy.  Due to his obsession with killing, Harris was switched to Luvox, which was in his system at the time of the shooting, according to his autopsy.

But the change from Zoloft to Luvox is no more of a change than switching from Pepsi to Coke, Dr. Tracy said.  The change did not avert the Columbine tragedy, and antidepressants are directly and forever linked to it.

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue psychiatric drugs is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of the risk of dangerous, even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced the harmful effects of psychiatric drugs (including violence), we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.  We welcome your comments on this article below.

 

 

 

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Killers On Psych Drugs News for Colorado

The Real Lesson of Columbine: Psychiatric Drugs Induce Violence

Filmmaker Michael Moore Weighs In On Why Columbine Happened

On this 12-year anniversary of the shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, let us not forget the real lesson of Columbine:  psychiatric drugs induce violence.

Shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox at the time he and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.  At least one public report exists of a friend of Klebold who witnessed Klebold taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft and urged him to come off them.  Officially, Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.

Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft are in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  Among the international regulatory agencies issuing warnings on these antidepressants, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in 2004 warning that “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia [severe restlessness], hypomania [abnormal excitement] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas] have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants.”  (For further information on international studies and warnings about antidepressants, go to CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine.)

Luvox, Paxil and other antidepressants also made the top 10 list of violence-inducing prescription drugs in a report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, which was based on data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (see “Study Reveals Top Ten Violence-Inducing Prescription Drugs [– Eight Are Psychiatric Drugs]”).

Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare, is an expert consultant in cases like Columbine in which antidepressants are involved.

Dr. Tracy says the Columbine killers’ brains were awash in serotonin, the chemical which causes violence and aggression and triggers a sleep-walking disorder in which a person literally acts out their worst nightmare.  Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts “within weeks” after he began taking Zoloft, according to Dr. Tracy.  Due to his obsession with killing, Harris was switched to Luvox, which was in his system at the time of the shooting, according to his autopsy. However, the change from Zoloft to Luvox is like switching from Pepsi to Coke, Dr. Tracy said.

A growing number of school shootings and other shooting rampages were committed by individuals under the influence of, or in withdrawal from, psychiatric drugs known to cause mania, psychosis, violence and even homicide. Consider this list of 13 massacres over the past decade or so, resulting in 54 dead and 105 wounded – and these are just the ones where the psychiatric drugs are known. In other cases, medical records were sealed or autopsy reports not made public or, in some cases, toxicology tests were either not done to test for psychiatric drugs or not disclosed to the public. But this is what we do know about the mental health “treatment” of those who committed these acts of violence:

  • Dekalb, Illinois – February 14, 2008: 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 16 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amount of Xanax in his system.
  • Omaha, Nebraska – December 5, 2007: 19-year-old Robert Hawkins killed eight people and wounded five before committing suicide in an Omaha mall. Hawkins’ friend told CNN that the gunman was on antidepressants, and autopsy results confirmed he was under the influence of the “anti-anxiety” drug Valium.
  • Jokela, Finland – November 7, 2007: 18-year-old Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School in southern Finland, then committed suicide.
  • Cleveland, Ohio – October 10, 2007: 14-year-old Asa Coon stormed through his school with a gun in each hand, shooting and wounding four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon had been placed on the antidepressant Trazodone.
  • Blacksburg, Virginia – April 16, 2007: 23-year-old Seung Hui Cho shot to death 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech, wounding 17 more, and then killing himself. He had received prior mental health treatment, however his mental health records remained sealed.
  • Red Lake, Minnesota – March 2005: 16-year-old Jeff Weise, on Prozac, shot and killed his grandparents, then went to his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation where he shot dead 7 students and a teacher, and wounded 7 before killing himself.
  • Greenbush, New York – February 2004: 16-year-old Jon Romano strolled into his high school in east Greenbush and opened fire with a shotgun. Special education teacher Michael Bennett was hit in the leg. Romano had been taking “medication for depression”.
  • El Cajon, California – March 22, 2001: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, opened fire on his classmates, wounding three students and two teachers at Granite Hills High School.
  • Williamsport, Pennsylvania – March 7, 2001: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was taking the antidepressant Prozac when she shot at fellow students, wounding one.
  • Conyers, Georgia – May 20, 1999: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with antidepressants when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.
  • Columbine, Colorado – April 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 26 others before killing themselves. Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox. Klebold’s medical records remain sealed.
  • Notus, Idaho – April 16, 1999: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students. He was taking a prescribed SSRI antidepressant and Ritalin.
  • Springfield, Oregon – May 21, 1998: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 22. Kinkel had been taking the antidepressant Prozac.

Filmmaker Michael Moore, who directed the documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” has said this, following his extensive look at the Columbine tragedy:

“In Bowling for Columbine,” we never really came up with the answer in terms of why this happened. I think we did a good job of exposing [that] all the reasons that were given were a bunch of B.S. ….And none of it really made any sense. That’s why I believe there should be an investigation in terms of what…prescribed pharmaceuticals these kids were on….

“It just would be shocking…to the millions of parents who prescribe this for their kids if it was finally explained to them, if this is the case, that this perhaps occurred for no other reason other than because of these prescriptions. “Imagine what that would do, imagine how people would totally re-think things – grasping for every little straw they can to explain why something like Columbine happens, when in fact it may be nothing more than this. How else do you explain two otherwise decent kids, very smart, no history of violence to other kids in the school – why them, why did this happen? It’s an extremely legitimate question to pose, and it demands an investigation.” (See the video clip of Michael Moore here.)

Given the growing list of shooters who were on psychiatric drugs, given the fact that 22 international drug regulatory agencies warn these drugs can cause violence, mania, psychosis, suicide and even homicide, and given the fact that a major study was just released confirming these drugs put people at greater risk of becoming violent, CCHR International asserts:  “Any recommendation for more mental health ‘treatment,’ which [inevitably] means putting more people and more kids on these [psychiatric] drugs, is not only negligent, but considering the possible repercussions, criminal.”

If you or someone you know has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, you can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.   We welcome your comments on this article below.

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Colorado Mental Health Institute News for Colorado

Another Death at Troubled State Psychiatric Institution in Pueblo

Facility received 1,100 patient complaints in 2008-09, reported 11 patient deaths in 2009

Another person has died while in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP), according to the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15822489. The cause of death of 41-year-old Troy Allen Geske, who died several days ago, will not be known until an autopsy is complete.

His death is being closely followed because of recent revelations of other deaths at the psychiatric facility, including the suicide of Sergio Taylor.  An autopsy report indicated 23-year-old Taylor died of asphyxiation in September 2009 after complaining about conditions at the CMHIP.  He was found by law enforcement officers under blankets with a plastic bag over his head in a supposedly high-security area of the psychiatric facility.  About a month earlier, Taylor and 19 other patients had signed a petition that said, “The sense of hopelessness has set in….  History has shown here…that when patients are feeling bored, hopeless and warehoused, …assault and suicide attempts transpire.”

As a direct result of Taylor’s death and citing concerns that other patients could die, the Colorado Department of Health conducted an immediate investigation of CMHIP in October 2009, according to The Denver Channel (KMGH): http://www.thedenverchannel.com/print/24085289/detail.html. In its report, the health department found patients at the state hospital in Pueblo to be in “immediate jeopardy” and detailed serious errors by the institution’s staff.  The department conducted an unannounced inspection of the facility again this past May.

CALL7 investigators from The Denver Channel, who have been reporting on deaths at the state hospital for months, also uncovered the death of another patient of the CMHIP, whose death was never reported to the state health department by CMHIP.  Josh Garcia died after being overdrugged and neglected by staff at the psychiatric institution.  According to his family, Garcia was given a number of powerful psychiatric drugs and suffered serious adverse effects, including severe abdominal pain.  He complained to the staff but was ignored, according to his family.  By the time Garcia was taken to a hospital, it was too late.  His bowels burst, severe infection set in, and he was brain dead within hours.  His family sued and recently received a settlement from the state over his death.

The Colorado Legislative Audit Committee has also called for repeated investigations of the CMHIP in recent years, due to complaints it receives.  In a report released in December 2009, the Office of the State Auditor found numerous deficiencies in the operations of the CMHIP that compromised safety and proved costly to the state.  Among these deficiencies, the institution did not adequately record, investigate or resolve patient complaints.  For 25 percent of the 1,100 patient complaints relating to staff behavior and quality of treatment issues the facility recorded in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the database did not even contain the names of the 270 staff members who were the subject of the complaints.  The report also revealed that there were 11 patient deaths at the facility last year, the highest number in the three years covered in the report.  How many of those were suicides, besides the suicide of Sergio Taylor, is unknown.  Another audit is underway currently, again at the request of state legislators, to determine if there are other patients who have died of neglect at the state psychiatric hospital.

The CMHIP also has a history of failing to keep the public safe from the mentally ill housed there who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with serious crimes.  Nine such patients escaped in 2009, with patient escapes at a three-year high.