Suicide Watch

Prescribing Suicidal Thoughts

Even before my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009, my primary care doctor prescribed Prozac for me and then periodically ask me whether I had suicidal thoughts. I thought that was strange and wondered whether I was displaying some behavior that made me suspect. After 2009 I was asked more often whether I was suicidal and was referred to psychotherapists four times. This caused a lot of anxiety and I subjected myself to severe introspection in search of clues. I started thinking often about suicide. I wondered whether my doctor had experienced suicide sometime in his life and was obsessed.

I said, “If I were seriously considering suicide, I would never tell anyone. I would just do it.”

On his fourth referral to psychotherapy I had had enough. When the therapist asked me why I was there to see him, I said it was so he could reassure my doctor that I was not suicidal, not even a likely candidate.

After the first session with the therapist, he wrote a letter to my doctor to report that I was not suicidal and had no need for psychotherapy.

At my next routine appointment my doctor asked again whether I had suicidal thoughts. “Why are you still asking me that,” I demanded. “Because you are still taking Prozac,” he said. “Then I will stop taking Prozac, because I am only taking it on your recommendation,” I answered. “As long as you are taking it I am required by our standards of practice to ask you the question for our records,” he said.

Oh great, my primary doctor doesn’t think or care if I’m suicidal he’s concerned about malpractice insurance and corporate guidelines. At least now, I thought, I know he sees no suicidal symptoms in me and I can stop worrying.

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