According to the Boston Herald, the attorneys of Michelle Carter, the girl accused of influencing her boyfriend to commit suicide with carbon monoxide inside his truck in 2014, requested to dig into the psyche of teenagers and examine how a popularly prescribed antidepressant can be responsible for suicidal thoughts and intentions.
In 2016, judges declined to give Carter funds to hire an expert that could explain the effects of Celexa, a drug that defense attorneys say both Carter and Conrad Roy III were taking when Roy killed himself on July 13, 2014.
Celexa (also known as citalopram hydrobromide) was introduced in 1998 to treat depression. It is similar in chemical structure to Lexapro (escitalopram), which was developed in 2002 with the goal of fewer side effects and better effectiveness.
While Celexa is only approved by the FDA to treat depression in adults, doctors still prescribe it to teenagers as an off-label use, in spite of the radical set of risks it carries.
Like other SSRIs, Celexa bears a black-box warning for an increased risk of suicide. Black-box warnings are the strictest warnings put on prescription drugs by the FDA, which are utilized when there is reasonable evidence of a serious hazard.
What worries is the passivity with which the medical system prescribes adolescents psychiatric drugs ignoring the heavyweight of consequences they generate.
The fact that it is regarded as ‘normal’ for teens to be treated with medications that alter both their brain functions and influence their overall behaviour sheds a controversial light on such circumstances where there the lines between self consciousness and trauma are extremely blurred.
The media does not pay enough attention to the harsh reality of young people suffering from mental conditions. Most convicted criminals were convinced they were doing the right thing at the time of their crime.
Psychiatry has demonstrated instead how impaired judgement can be responsible for that, thus we can draw many conclusions around Carter’s mental state, with symptoms specific to Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD, a progressive dementia that causes confusion and impaired thinking, which can in turn add to frustration, distress and agitation.
While allegations against Carter may be perfectly reasonable from a legal stance, this trial paints a problematic picture in regards of how much we still need to learn about mental health and the debilitating stigma surrounding it.