Gripping, but Misguided, May 19, 2005
Gail Griffith writes very well and this is indeed a gripping story. Lots of compassion is demonstrated for suicidal and depressed teens. Nevertheless the book is very one-sided and misguided in its presentation of the benefits of antidepressant therapy. This is particularly surprising in light of the fact Will so clearly demonstrates adverse side effects, even the beginning of serotonin syndrome, well before his suicide attempt. This is not surprising in light of the enormous doses of three different drugs that he had only been taking for a relatively short time - enormous for someone only 17 years of age, 6 feet tall and reputedly less than 150 pounds, very thin for that height. He was nauseous, vomiting and had significant memory loss. In addition his suicide notes are examples of a dissociative state, in which one feels one is watching from outside oneself with no real sense of the consequences of one's actions, that has been reported repeatedly by survivors of antidepressant harm. The fact that his own doctor and the doctors who endorse the book do not recognize this is a sorry testimony to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry over the psychiatric profession. The other endorsements come ironically from Andrew Solomon and Paul Raeburn who have themselves inadvertently described adverse events dramatically in their own writing. I hope readers will examine more critically the differences between underlying depression and the adverse effects of mind altering drugs.
Forum on teen depression and suicide
CONCORD -- The caring communities of Concord and Carlisle, through the Alliance for Teen Safety, are sponsoring a forum exploring teen depression and suicide, on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School Auditorium, 500 Walden Street, Concord. The keynote speaker will be Gail Griffith, author of a book about her family's personal and powerful experience with the attempted suicide of a son. It is called "Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery," and it will be released in May 2005. Gail will be preceded by Boston Globe Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eileen McNamara, whose Nov. 28 column, called "Our Silence is Fatal Flaw," about the recent unrelated suicides of three teens in Wellesley and Needham, has touched a raw nerve in suburban Boston.
The publisher of Gail's upcoming book has written: "In the early hours of March 11, 2001, 17-year-old Will ingested a near fatal dose of his antidepressant medication. "Will's Choice" is his mother Gail Griffith's riveting and shockingly veracious memoir of the family's journey of diagnosing, treating, and trying to save their son. Laying bare raw emotion and her own critical assessment of her previous bouts with depression, her role in Will's suicidality and the question of why a boy of Will's aptitude and intelligence would find life unworthy of living, Griffith exposes Will's struggle. By including Will's own words in the form of witty and honest journal entries, readers bear witness to Will's attempts to explain what even he can't fully understand: why he did it.
Throughout, Griffith takes us on the very personal road each of the family members traveled to renew Will's interest in life and to regain their equilibrium in the aftermath. "'Will's Choice' is a story of hope, of a child battling and nearly succumbing to his depression and his attempts to end his own life and the measures his family took to close ranks to save him."
In the weeks following the forum, smaller follow-up discussion groups will be scheduled. If you would like any additional information, please contact Barbara Howland, executive director of the Alliance for Teen Safety, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (978) 835-2729.