Stopping Drug Research could Increase Young Suicide

PAPYRUS is extremely concerned by recent announcements by drug companies that they are withdrawing from research

PAPYRUS is extremely concerned by recent announcements by drug companies, such as UK-based GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, that they are withdrawing from research that could help find a way to decrease depression - a risk factor for suicide - in young people. The charity believes that this action may result in more suicides in the longer term.

“PAPYRUS has been petitioning for several years for research into better and safer drug treatments for young people with moderate to severe depression, where alternative treatments do not prove adequate,” said Ged Flynn, PAPYRUS Chief Executive Officer.

He added: “While certain drugs have been found to increase the risk of suicide by increasing suicidal thoughts in some young people, this does not mean that we should stop looking for a solution to decrease depression, and ultimately suicide, in young people. “We need to look for solutions that are safer, not to stop research altogether.”

Every year in the UK between 600 and 800 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 take their own lives - a number equivalent to the population of a small secondary school. Under the age of 35, the number rises to around 1,600. These are alarming statistics, but PAPYRUS believes this is just the tip of the iceberg. Huge numbers of young people consider suicide and many thousands of those actually make a suicide attempt. Thousands more self-harm.

“Funding for research into high-profile diseases, such as Cancer and heart disease continues to be buoyant. It is disappointing that mental illness does not attract similar support, especially concerning the mental health and wellbeing of our future adult generation,” added Ged Flynn.