FDA HEARING TESTIMONIES
I'd like to introduce you to my daughter… Caitlin Elizabeth McIntosh. Well, it's actually just a 2-dimensional image of her, but it's all I have left. She died of suicide at age 12 years, 3 months - just 8 weeks after being put on Paxil, then Zoloft.
Caitlin was a straight “A” student in 5 th grade, a talented musician, artist and poet, who loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. Then sixth grade began, and combined with the onset of puberty, this bright, sensitive girl who had once loved going to school, was having trouble coping. She was also having problems sleeping. We wanted to help, so we took her to our family physician who gave her Paxil. She didn't do well at all on it, so he took her off - cold turkey. When we saw a psychiatrist a week later, he put her on Zoloft. She then started having strong suicidal ideations, along with hallucinations and severe agitation (known as Akathisia), and was put in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital to “balance her meds”. Things only got worse, as there she was put on other strong psychotropic drugs to treat “symptoms” which we now know were actually side effects of the SSRI's.
After she was discharged, her personality changed completely. It was the beginning of the end.
The downward spiral continued until Jan. 5, 2000, when she hung herself with her shoelaces in the girl's bathroom at the Middle School she was attending.
We were told that antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft were ‘wonder drugs' and that they were safe and effective for children. We were lied to. Recently uncovered clinical trials show that Paxil caused suicidal ideations in test subjects, and as a result, it has been banned for pediatric use in the UK. In France, doctors are warned to never give Zoloft to anyone under 15. The pharmaceutical companies have known for years that these drugs could cause suicide in some patients. Why didn't we?
I implore you, ban the pediatric use of antidepressants here in the United States so that no other parent will have to endure the pain I now live with, and other children's lives might be saved.
My name is Noah Wright Smith, and I am a 15 year old victim of legalized drug abuse. When I was 5 my mother had me put on Ritalin even after my pediatrician refused to prescribe it because I was a good kid, and he could tell my mom had problems. She took me to another doctor and convinced him I needed drugs because she said I was hyper and wouldn't behave.
When I started taking Ritalin I really started having problems and got into a lot of trouble in Kindergarten, and First Grade. I would climb on desks, crawl under them, run away from the teacher – & then get paddled by the Principal. I remember feeling sick all the time when my mother gave me that drug Ritalin. This was just the beginning of real bad things happening to me because of drugs! Nobody except my grandparents seemed to care what was happening to me – they knew what my mother was doing but nobody would listen to them – not even attorneys and judges. Not even DSS because they really got mad at them.
I love my grandparents a lot and they loved me so much they spent a lot of money to get custody of me last year in February. When they got me they got real upset because I was on a lot of drugs and was in bad shape. They had to go to Broughton State Mental Hospital in Morganton, NC to pick me up. I was on so many drugs I couldn't talk right but I told them thank you and told them I loved them a lot. When my grandparents got custody they found out I was on a lot of drugs & my Grandmother says it was 1000 millagrams a day, which is a lot. Some of the drugs I have been on in my lifetime are Zoloft, Paxil, Celexia, Effexor, Lithium, Ritalin, Thorazine, Buspar, Adderall, Welbutrin, Melatonin, Risperdahl, Zyprexia, Lexepro, Depakote and Seroquel.
I wasn't a bad kid – I was a badly abused kid and was badly abused by my mother and my stepfather, yet nobody but my grandparents cared. Department of Social Services knew I was being abused and so were my brothers and sister but they didn't do anything except get me put on more drugs. The drugs made me very sick and very bad and I couldn't stop myself from doing some bad things like trying to stab my teacher with scissors. The drugs made my head hurt very badly and hurt all over my body. Some of them made me real hyper, angry and aggressive so I could not calm myself down. I got really scared when this stuff would happen but I couldn't stop myself and my mom wouldn't listen when I Would tell her not to make me take any more of those pills because they scared me And made me sick. She made me take more of them. Nobody cared that my mom was very sick. I found out she has been in mental hospitals too, lots of times, but doctors kept giving her those drugs to give to me anyway and no one would listen to me. Everybody called me a liar, and I was telling them the truth when I would tell them what was happening to me at my house and what my mom would do with the drugs. She would make me take a lot of it and lie to the doctors about me being real bad even when I was not. Some of the drugs made me shake all over, and even shake on the inside. Sometimes, when she would give me some of the drugs in a little while I would want to kill my parents and would tell them that. That got me put in a mental hospital, too. I got very depressed and very sad on some of those stupid drugs and had bad problems sleeping. So they put me on more drugs and some of them made me have really bad dreams that I couldn't wake up from and that scared me very badly so I tried very hard not to sleep every night so I wouldn't have those bad nightmares. That made them give me more drugs.
You have to know this – some of these drugs made me want to kill myself. That really scared me but I couldn't stop thinking about wanting to kill myself. I was thinking about that a lot in the daytime and at night. Then I would tell people about it, and I would have to go to another mental hospital. One day I climbed up on a very high railing to jump off so I could kill myself. I was put in a mental hospital again for doing that but I really wanted to die. I really did want to, and I was so scared and so mad too.
I was scared at those hospitals and I wanted to go home to my grandparents because they loved me. At those hospitals they just kept giving me more drugs and I got diabetes and high blood pressure and I got depressed so they gave me even more drugs! Nobody would listen that the drugs made me do the bad things and made me feel bad. Nobody cared and they believed my mother that I was always bad and I wasn't bad unless she made me take those drugs.
The day I got to see my grandparents in court when they were trying to get my custody I hugged my Mimi and told her to please make them stop giving me all those drugs. I told her they made me very sick and made me feel very bad and made me do bad things. My Mimi promised to try to help me. I guess she and my Papa did something because they got my custody and I am very, very happy.
My grandparents got me a good doctor who is a psychiatrist, Dr. Frank Miller. We have worked very hard together. He found out I really didn't need any of those drugs. Last year he took me off all of them one at a time and I am very happy and doing great. I don't have anymore nightmares and don't want to kill myself or anyone else. I don't even want to hurt anyone. My head doesn't hurt any more and I don't get depressed or scared or angry. I am so happy I am off all those stupid drugs. I talk to other kids in church and in homeschool club and I tell them to stay away from drugs. I tell them what can happen to them like happened to me. I tell them how happy I am and I want them to be happy, too.
I am 15 years old but I am only doing 7 th grade work. I was put in so many hospitals and foster homes and put in Alternative Education classes so I am way behind kids my age. I am being homeschooled by my Mimi and our friend Marylou Kaloupek, and have to work very hard because I am way behind. Drugs made this happen to me and they almost ruined my life and almost killed me. I am making friends now in church and in homeschool groups and I am very happy, but also very sad. What about the kids that have to take these drugs who don't have grandparents who will fight to get their custody? I don't want kids to kill themselves! Who is taking care of them? Who is going to fix my little brother Zachary who has been abused real bad and made to take drugs too? Who really cares about us Kids? I don't even know if you care. Do you? My grandparents spent all their money to save me and I'm glad they did but it makes me feel sad for them too, and now they are fighting for other kids so they will never have to hurt and be afraid again like I was. Somebody better listen to the kids when they say the drugs are making them sick or making them do bad things because they are telling the truth.
I'm glad I'm alive now and that I didn't kill myself because I want to keep telling kids to keep telling people what's happening to them and maybe a friend or their grandparents will love them and save them too.
Thank you for listening to me. Now please help the other kids so they don't get hurt by drugs and so they don't kill themselves. I almost killed myself and am glad I'm alive.
Noah Wright Smith