The other day I had the privilege of being invited to give a talk to some criminal barristers. I wanted to tell them about the fact if people are suffering from antidepressant poisoning, they cannot be held accountable for their actions. I know this from personal experience. When I was psychotic from taking the antidepressant escitalopram (lexapro), I was hallucinating so wildly that I could easily have killed someone. In fact, I actually thought I had killed my kids and it was lucky I didn't.
I'm no legal expert, but I've been a witness in a couple of cases and I've interviewed lawyers for my book. Antidepressant induced crimes are difficult to defend. One possibility is a defence known as automatism. It means that defendant has a temporary loss of control. With antidepressants induced crimes, the problem is that in many instances the perpetrator is delusional for a considerable amount of time. So this looks like intent.
My talk was to a fairly small group so I was astonished when I was approached by a barrister who told me she now has a possible clue as towhy a 70 year old man she was defending had suddenly attacked his wife with a knife. In the previous few days he had been put on an antidepressant and also sleeping tablets. He couldn't remember attacking his wife and has no history of violence or of mental illness.
I gave her the details of an expert and of course at this point nobody knows whether it was the pills that caused this. However It seems to me we need to get to a point where the first question that people ask when a seemingly motiveless crime happens, is whether they were on medication and if there has been a change of dose, or if they were withdrawing from them. Violence on antidepressants is thought to happen in 1 per cent of cases. There are 5 million people in the UK taking antidepressants. This surely needs to be brought to the attention of people in the criminal justice system.