On August 31, 2016 the FDA issued a statement about benzodiazepines receiving a black box warning in relation to combining with opiates. This warning is late and incomplete. The dangers of opiates and benzodiazepines needed to be addressed, but every single benzodiazepine alone lists suicide as a potential side effect of the drug. A study in 2010 found:
The association between benzodiazepine use and attempted suicide is especially high for nonantidepressant users, for the young, and for males. Whether this relationship is causal or not, physicians should be aware of the high potential for suicide attempts when prescribing benzodiazepines for patients in these high risk groups.
Another study from 2014, Benzodiazepines and suicidal ideation and completed suicide found the opposite correlations between age groups, antidepressant use and sex. 11 were male and 19 were female. The patient’s age ranged from 9 to 71 years with a mean of 44.8 years. In this study many were on antidepressants. In this study it was found that 6 discontinued the benzodiazepine and their suicidal ideation remitted.
While the studies do conflict on age group concerns and poly pharmaceutical observations, the concern about the risk of suicide correlated with benzodiazepine usage remain consistent.
Accurate information and accounting of risks in imperative for the best treatment choices, and this includes all potential death risks prior to beginning treatment. We aim to address the need for a suicide warning in the future, and are excited for the recognition of the dangers and lowering the risks of death the FDA release today will certainly prevent.
Janice is a graduate of the University of South Florida. Prior to becoming sick from benzodiazepines she was working on her Master’s in Clinical Psychology. She founded Benzodiazepine Information Coalition in 2016 after sustaining a multi year injury from prescription Ativan taken as instructed by her physician. She experienced severe side effects from the drug and was misdiagnosed, over a 5 year period, with a multitude of health problems from multiple specialists unable to consider benzodiazepines as the culprit. When she finally discovered the cause of these problems she was unable to find a physician, despite multiple consultations, capable of tapering her off the drug. Fortunately she was able to find this information online from other laypeople who had experienced the same problem. Shocked with, and confused by, the widespread lack of knowledge within the medical community about such a commonly prescribed class of drugs, along with a feeling of indebtedness towards the prescribed harm community that saved her, she decided to organize and form a coalition to facilitate information sharing, awareness, education, research and change.