Statement on Motion

Motion ‘’That this Council support Jake’s Amendment and calls on the Minister for the Coroner’s Act to be amended so that a Coroner can return a verdict of iatrogenic which is medically induced suicide and we agree to write to the relevant minister.’’


On 20 March 2013, shortly after being prescribed the antidepressant, Prozac, 14 year old Jake McGill Lynch ended his own life using a firearm. Jake, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, was given an antidepressant drug despite research stating that it has no benefit for children with Asperger’s syndrome and despite the emerging evidence of harm.

The coroner in Jake’s case rejected a suicide verdict for Jake. This was due to an email that Jake wrote 24 hours before he took his own life, through no fault of his own. He was writing to a friend and he conveyed his concerns about the medication he was taking, and that he was feeling worse because of it. He said he felt drugged out of his mind and was trying to suppress the bad feelings. Based on those words that were brought to the coroner’s attention, the coroner said that this child was not in his right mind and that he would not elaborate on the medication.

He asked Jake’s parents what verdict they would like, open or narrative. They chose an open verdict. None of the options suited. Their belief is that Jake was not in his right mind due to medication. Jake had no history or diagnosis of depression, suicide ideation or self-harm. That is confirmed by the prescribing psychiatrist.

Jake’s parents, Stephanie and John, work tirelessly to bring attention to this issue and to campaign for a change to the law.

Their request is simple. They want the Coroners Act to be amended in order that a coroner can return a verdict of iatrogenic – medically induced – suicide where such is the case. Of course, the coroner will take into consideration the evidence before him or her. This option should be available. It is an issue that must be highlighted. A verdict of suicide, returned in accordance with the provisions of the 1962 Act, must be differentiated from a verdict of iatrogenic suicide. By definition, this type of suicide is the ending of one’s own life where the effect of medical treatment undertaken by the deceased, including any prescribed medication, is the primary cause of such an action.

Over ten years ago, warnings first began that children in particular needed to be closely monitored when put on certain drugs. Evidence from many sources confirms that some medications can cause or exacerbate a wide range of abnormal mental and behavioural conditions. … Each of these reactions can worsen the individual’s mental condition and can result in suicidality.

It is wholly the responsibility of medical professionals, scientists and the Department of Health to advise, monitor and manage health care. The intention of this amending legislation is simply to give this real issue the place it rightly deserves within our legislative process, from the perspective of justice and the reporting of correct cause of death.

The World Health Organization states that countries “need to know how many people are born and die each year – and the main causes of their deaths – in order to have well-functioning health systems”.

As the scientific evidence for the link between some medications and suicidal tendencies grows, countries will need to legislate for this. Ireland has a chance to be quick off the mark in being an example in this regard.

The amended version of the 2007 Bill should contain a comprehensive list of verdicts open for a coroner or a jury, as the case may be, to return.