Palm Beach Post
by Opinion Staff
George Sheldon, head of the Florida Department of Children and families, says that 2,699 children in foster care — about 13 percent of the total — are taking one or more psychotropic drugs. That’s higher than the roughly 4 percent of children nationwide taking such drugs.
Frighteningly, 16 percent of the Florida foster kids given such drugs are taking them without permission from a parent or judge. One such child, 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, who was taking a combination antipsychotic and antidepressant, hanged himself in April in his Broward County foster home.
It isn’t known whether the drugs contributed to Gabriel’s suicide. But doctors have said that such mind-altering drugs, including many common antidepressants, can lead to thoughts of suicide in children and have put special warnings on the medications.
That, in turn, might have contributed to a drop in the number of children and teens diagnosed with depression, a new study says. The danger is that the risk of suicide from untreated depression could be greater than the risk of suicide as a side-effect of the medicine in kids.
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