Public Health Medical Officer, Niels Holm Nielsen

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Public Health Medical Officer never reported the suicide

A few hours after Danilo’s suicide, the Terrida family reached Frederikshavn. At that time, they thought that it was a local doctor in the city that had given Danilo “happy pills”. Therefore, they asked the local police to find the name of the practitioner, but the answer was that it was not a local doctor who had prescribed the medicine. Therefore, Denis and Marianne asked the Health Medical Officer, who was the only one who had access to the information about the doctor who wrote the prescription. Here they were informed that Danilo had been prescribed antidepressants of the brand Sertraline at his own doctor, and that the prescription was redeemed October 14, 2011.

No reporting
When people die of suspicious causes, or take their own lives, the Health Medical Officer´s job is to investigate the death in cooperation with the police. If Medical Officers consider that it may be suspected that the cause of death can been nothing but natural, it have to be reported. Apart from the Medical Official´s response to Marianne and Denis, it is clear that the Medical Officer was well aware of the fact that Danilo had started on antidepressants just 11 days before his suicide – and that Danilo’s own practitioner should have informed Danilo about the side effects. Thereby, the Medical Officer was well aware of the dangerous side effects of Sertraline. Yet he did not find reason to investigate the possible link between the pills and suicide, and neither the police nor Healthcare Authorities were therefore informed about the link between the prescription of Sertraline and Danilo’s suicide. This amazes his parents, because even then it was well known among doctors that antidepressants increased the risk of suicide among young people. A serious side-effect as a suicide should, according to Marianne and Denis, be reported to the National Board of Health, so the authorities could be aware of the enormous risks associated with SSRI´s and include it in their assessment of the medicine. However, it never happened. If it is not the Medical Officer´s job to examine such suspicious deaths and thus help to increase the patient safety, whose job is it? If neither Medical Officers or other medics care to report incidents as Danilo’s suicide, it may explain that in Denmark, only few recorded cases of suicide by antidepressants are registered.

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