MindFreedom Warning: The combination of a heat wave and laws requiring people to take powerful psychiatric drugs in their own homes on an “outpatient basis” can kill. Mainstream media are not adequately warning the public. Neuroleptics, also known as “antipsychotics,” can suppress the ability of the body to adjust to heat.
When a heat wave strikes a region where there are laws allowing court-ordered involuntary outpatient psychiatric drugging, there is a special emergency.
by David W. Oaks, MFI Director
Add up these facts:
- Fact: More than 40 USA states, and several nations, have laws allowing court-ordered involuntary psychiatric drugging of people living in their own homes, out in the community.
- Fact: According to . a variety of other coercive measures(such as threat of eviction) are also increasingly used to enforce taking psychiatric drugs of people living outside of institutions.
- Fact: The main family of psychiatric drugs administered involuntarily are the neuroleptics, more commonly known as so-called antipsychotics (e.g. Clozapine, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Haldol, Thorazine, Prolixin).
- Fact: Neuroleptics can suppress the ability of the body to adjust to heat.
- Fact: People court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs in their homes tend to be poor people, who often lack inadequate air conditioning. There is almost never any immediate medical supervision to monitor hazards of psychiatric drugs given to people living at home.
- Fact: Global warming means that heat waves are tending to become more common and more intense.
In other words, heat waves PLUS forced outpatient psychiatric drugging EQUALS an untold tragedy of needless death.
Mainstream media have an ethical and professional duty to warn the public about these documented facts.
However, once more the mass media apparently do want to alarm the public or people who may then quit their psychiatric drugs.
We at MindFreedom are pro-choice, and many of our members choose to take psychiatric drugs. But we all agree that everyone has a right to know about psychiatric drug hazards, and those hazards need to be minimized.
One way to address this media silence is by acknowledging and thanking the very few mainstream media who are informing the public.
A search of Google news for phrases used by media over this past month of heat waves is revealing:
Google News Hits
“heat wave” PLUS drug(s) OR medication(s)
[including the reprimand by Ft. Worth Star today to “Stick with your medications.”]
“heat wave” antipsychotics or anti-psychotics
In other words, less than one in a thousand media covering the “heat wave” news story warned readers about the increased risk of death from “antipsychotic” psychiatric drugs.
Here are the five USA media who, according to Google news, dared to break the silence about the mortality risk of taking neuroleptic psychiatric drugs during a heat wave.
All are local media serving smaller communities:
- The State, South Carolina – Aug 10, 2007
- Decatur Daily Democrat, Indiana – Aug 9, 2007
- The Stamford Times, Connecticut – Jul 25, 2007 (does not have involuntary outpatient commitment)
- eMaxHealth.com, North Carolina – Jul 23, 2007
- Moberly Monitor Index, Missouri – Aug 15, 2007
Once more, mainstream corporate media ought to take some of the responsibility for these human rights violations.
It is up to alternative media to break the silence.
Here are the headlines, references, links and — when known — names of the journalists who broke the silence in these five media outlets, and they ought to be thanked:
The State, SC – Aug 10, 2007
Journalist: Czerne M. Reid – email@example.com
Quote: “And certain drugs, such as common antihistamines, antidepressants and antipsychotics, can make the body store heat.”
Decatur Daily Democrat, IN – Aug 9, 2007
Journalists: Ken Kuzma and Ryan Lenz in Evansville
The Stamford Times, CT – Jul 25, 2007
Journalist: Richard Harkness
eMaxHealth.com, NC – Jul 23, 2007
Moberly Monitor Index, MO – Aug 15, 2007
Heat wave deaths related to psychiatric diagnosis
Meanwhile a French study that was published this past week shows that having a psychiatric label is one of the predictions of death during a heat wave.
According to, the study of 83 heat stroke victims in France, published in the Aug. 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that having a diagnosis of a psychiatric disability tripled the risk of death following a heat wave.
Of course, whether or not there is a heat wave, a wide variety of psychiatric drugs, including neuroleptics, are linked to increased mortality rates.
One study showed that those in the US state psychiatric system tended to die 25 years earlier than the rest of the US population; the administration of psychiatric drugs may be be primary and secondary factors. For instance, Zyprexa can directly cause diabetes. Indirectly, neuroleptics can lead to increased tobacco smoking, because nicotine is a kind of antidote to the discomfort often caused by neuroleptics.
For more information on psychiatric drugs and mortality issues see “Related Content” below: