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TeenScreen - New York Times - Danger Signs

By       Message Evelyn Pringle     Permalink
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Maybe my expectations are too high. All of my life I've put a lot of stock in a story if I read it in the New York Times. In hindsight, I must admit that I found the whole saga of the planted WMD stories, that in large part helped the administration push the country into an unnecessary and senseless war in Iraq, troubling to say the least. However, to its credit the Times did give Judith Miller the boot and thus, restored my confidence in the legitimacy of the paper at least somewhat.

That said, my expectation were shattered again on December 4, 2005, when I read the article, "Danger Signs," which paints a totally inaccurate picture of a pharma-backed marketing scheme, billed as a suicide prevention tool, under the name, "TeenScreen."

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This profiteering scheme was actually hatched by several front groups in concert with the industry, with the ultimate goal of getting a foot in the door of the nation's public school system to recruit the 52 millions students as life-long customers in the sale of a new generation of useless, dangerous, and expensive psychiatric drugs.

In Danger Signs, the Times talks about how in the mid-1980's, Dr David Shaffer, a psychiatrist employed by Columbia University, became concerned about an increase in teen suicide which motivated the good doctor to develop the TeenScreen survey.

The truth is that in 1987, Prozac, the first in a stream of SSRI antidepressants, hit the market which necessitated a heavy-duty plan for legal drug pushing. Pharma needed an expanded customer base, so they put their heads together and came up with the bright idea for Shaffer to develop the ridiculous survey and play on the nation's soft side when it was passed off as a prevention tool to save poor suicidal teens.

In reality, TeenScreen is one of the slickest, and sickest, marketing schemes that I've run across in my 2 years of investigating the world's most profitable drug cartel better known as the pharmaceutical industry.

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It's certainly no secret that certain officials in the nation's regulatory agencies are members of the cartel so it's no wonder that I got a little suspicious when I read the comment in the Times about a CDC survey that claimed about 8% of high school students answered yes when asked if they had attempted suicide during the past year. The Times did not say 8% thought about suicide, it said 8% of the kids attempted suicide.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not insinuating that the CDC is exaggerating, or that it ginned up a survey, not at all. I'm saying that the CDC official who presented the Times with the 8% story is a liar.

If they did a survey and found 8 kids out of a 100 who actually attempted suicide in the past year, they either surveyed kids in substance abuse treatment, or a homeless shelter, which is the favorite hunting grounds of the bandits running TeenScreen when they go out trolling for potential suicide statistics to inflate their numbers.

Case on point for manipulating statistics, here is what TeenScreen's Executive Director, Laurie Flynn, wrote in a promotional article titled, Before Their Time: Preventing Teen Suicide.

"Since 1960 the suicide rates for males 15-19 years old has tripled. More alarming, suicide is increasingly claiming its victims at younger ages. From 1980-1996, suicide rates among children 10-14 years old increased 100 percent."

Imagine that, an increase of 100%. I am shocked, just shocked!

Experts find the deliberate inflation of numbers appalling. "They are pulling numbers out of thin air - falsely presuming that this crisis is about lack of access to drugs and calling for government to provide more and more of what many of us believe is the wrong kind of treatment," according to Robert Whitaker in an interview with Kelly O'Meara on May 16, 2003, published by Insight News.

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The truth is, that although the class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), marketed to children via TeenScreen, have been prescribed to tens of millions of people over the past decade and they have not lowered suicide rates an iota.

A government sponsored study published in the Journal of the American Association surveyed 9708 people aged 18 to 54, and compared the suicide data from the 1990-1992 National Comorbidity Survey and the 2001-2003 National Comorbidity Survey Replication and found: "Despite a dramatic increase in treatment, no significant decrease occurred in suicidal thoughts, plans, gestures, or attempts in the United States during the 1990s," Trends in Suicide Ideation, Plans, Gestures, and Attempts in the United States, 1990-1992 to 2001-2003, JAMA. 2005;293:2487-2495

The study's authors also note that their findings are corroborated by "other information" which "argues against the possibility that the increase in treatment prevented an increase that would otherwise have occurred in suicide-related behaviors. Specifically, randomized controlled trials find only modest effects of treatment in reducing suicidality, even with optimal regimens."

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

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