Steph Gatchell is a name I stumbled upon by accident. She was being interviewed by Shelley Jofre for a documentary regarding GlaxoSmithKline's infamous antidepressant, Seroxat (known as Paxil in the US)
At the age of 16 Steph's daughter, Sharise, was having problems dealing with what most girls her age deal with - her periods, in as much that they hadn't started yet. She was also sweating excessively. Steph took her to see a consultant whereupon he prescribed Sharise Seroxat.
Within days of starting Seroxat Steph noticed a change in Sharise, She became more confident, yet with the confidence came aggression. Sometime later Steph learned that Sharise had begun self-harming. Seroxat was stopped and the self-harming stopped.
In 2003, unbeknown to Steph, Sharise had gone back to see her Dr where once again she was prescribed Seroxat. A short time later, Steph had returned from a holiday and found Sharise hanging from the loft hatch of the family home..
At this time there were no warnings about prescribing Seroxat to teenagers and adolescents. This, despite the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, knowing for many years that Seroxat can induce suicide.
Two weeks after the death of Sharise, the Britih drug regulator, The MHRA, released information to Dr's and the public that Seroxat should not be recommended to adolescents and children. It is believed that the MHRA had also known about the Seroxat/Suicide link for a considerable amount of time and had they have released this information sooner then Sharise would probably still be alive today.
I've never met Stephany but we have corresponded many times.
Steph is part of my 10 year journey with regard to my writing of this blog.
Sharise is too.
The story of Sharise is also in my book, 'The evidence, however, is clear, the Seroxat scandal'.
Here's Steph's Q&A.
Name: Stephanie Gatchell
Q: Steph, this may be a difficult question, so forgive me if it's painful for you. What is your fondest memory of Sharise?
A: My fondest memory of Sharise is not a particular event or something...it's the memory of her gentle, serene soul...her beautiful, delicate hands. Perhaps because I'm reminded of that, every time I look at my grand daughter's little hands.
Q: What do you say to people who believe that antidepressants are safe and effective?
A: I get very frustrated and impatient with people who still believe those lies.Then I remember that, I was once the same. It never occurred to me to do research either until it was too late. I'd say, STOP trusting blindly, or you'll live to regret it! Question EVERYTHING! The entire alopathic system of treating symptoms and not looking for the root cause is flawed, and will never ever makes any sense or heal anyone. There is a very cruel and sobering process of natural selection in progress...You don't stay vigilant, you'll learn the hard way!
Q: What advice would you give to Coroners faced with suspected suicides of teenagers?
A: .I'd ask Coroners to be honest... to be brave..to network with others of your profession country wide? To share notes and raise awareness on a large scale for more impact.
Q: Have you ever considered writing a book about your journey?
A: .I did once yes. When I was trying to make sense of everything, trying to comprehend what had happened. I felt like I was going insane. I did write notes on paper randomly whenever I felt the need. It provided some relief. I still have those notes in a suitcase, with everything else. It's one I don't open ever...deliberately. I'm too much of a coward. Why poke myself in the open wound in my heart that is barely scarred over...why? Do you ever see me post personal things on Facebook? You won't. It's just not me. I wish I was different.
Q: Have you at any point corresponded with Seroxat manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, with regard to Sharises' Seroxat induced suicide or have they ever apologised for the role Seroxat played in Sharises' induced suicide? Also, have the British drug regulator, the MHRA ever apologised to you regarding the amount of time it took them to issues warnings about Seroxat induced suicides in children and adolescents?
A: .No, I haven't. I've always known that they would never ever admit anything for fear of being sued. So I never expected an apology at all, ever.
The MHRA never apologised either, and I was there in their office with Janice. (Seroxat User Group Founder)
Q: If you could ask GSK's Andrew Witty three questions what would they be?
A: 1. Explain to me, how one accepts a knighthood, whilst knowing very well that the company you run is corrupt to the core? Kills thousands and harms countless people and children? How?
2. I assume you have children of your own? How then could you allow and do what you did?
3. I'm trying to make sense of your mind...are you psychopathic or a sociopath?
Q: If you could ask the MHRA's Ian Hudson three questions what would they be?
A: Mr. Hudson, anyone who has a sincere interest in protecting the public (and his own extended family) would realise that what is absolutely crucial is the removal of Big Pharma's funding to the MHRA. It should be entirely funded by the government. Why have you done to change this corrupt system? Or is that fat pay cheque just too important?
Q: You have met many fellow advocates on your journey, many of whom who have suffered personal tragedies with regard to antidepressant induced death. How has this helped you and do you still keep in contact with this network of fellow advocates?
A: Ooh..words can't express how much talking to other parents have helped me. Especially in the early days. I'll always be in contact will all of them.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: .In 10 years time, I hope to be still here. In this dimension protecting my grand children, for heavens alone know what they'll have to face then. I failed to protect my own gentle child..please let me not fail again.
Q: Finally Steph, some personal questions...
1. What book are you currently reading?
A: At the moment I'm not reading any book. I'm spending all my free time obsessively watching videos on YouTube. In particular Dr. R.E. Tent's. I find his work fascinating and educational. Ignorance isn't bliss. It's death.
2. What was the last CD you listened to (in full)?
A: That would be Queen. Sharise liked Queen. The only band from my era that seemed to appeal to her. She said she liked them because they seemed to have so much fun.
3. What is the best movie you have seen this year?
A: .It's weird but I can't recall any movie that really impressed or lingered recently. That may be because we take the kids to the cinema most of the time.We prefer documentaries on TV.
4. What country would you most like to visit?
A: The Maldives. The sight of crystal clear turquoise water does something to my soul.
5. If you had the choice of being either a defense or prosecution lawyer, which would you choose and why?
A: A defense lawyer. I'd never take a case I didn't believe in.To help, and protect.
Video shows Glaxo and MHRA Spokespersons playing down the suicide link in Seroxat in adolescents and children. The investigation mentioned in the clip below finished after 5 years. Glaxo were not fined nor were any criminal proceedings brought against them.
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