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A Prescription for Murder? The BBC Documentary that further reinforces Mental Health Stereotypes

The documentary questions if SSRI antidepressants played a part in the murder of James Holmes.

Experts have heavily criticised the BBC Panorama documentary ‘A Prescription for Murder?’.

The controversial BBC documentary questioned if selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants played a part or even contributed to the murder of James Holmes.

With more than 40 million prescriptions issued in the UK each year for antidepressants, a significant number of these are for SSRIs.

Experts are warning that although openly speaking about mental health is good, reinforcing a stigma that has no evidence or basis-in-fact is a step in the wrong direction and only further reinforces mental health stereotypes.

You can watch ‘BBC Panorama: A Prescription for Murder‘ on BBC iPlayer. 

Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, wrote in the International Business Times that; “Last night’s Panorama programme A Prescription for Murderset back the journalism of mental health by decades”.

She goes on to explain that considerable research has been done and, currently, there is no evidence to suggest an even a casual link between antidepressants and murder. Instead, there is clear evidence that antidepressants are an effective treatment for an “extremely serious illness”.

Finally, she adds “Making a link between the two only increases stigma – which we know exacerbates someone’s mental”. You can read her full article here.

Prof Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry, King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, said: “There is no good evidence that antidepressants increase the risk of violent behaviour, and the extremely rare (and tragic) cases that are cited in support of this theory could be explained by chance”.