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October 12, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-12

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 12, 2004



Suicide attempts prompt
antidepressants warning


!"T. Tlt" A t"r% i A TYN f+t_ s s i

CHICAGO (AtP) - Shauna Murphy
thinks it's a smart idea to put warning
labels on antidepressants. She has good
reason. Nine years ago, at age 10, she
was put on a particular brand of the
medication and, shortly after, tried to
kill herself.
It's the kind of outcome that has
prompted the Food and Drug Administra-
tion to begin work on writing "black box"
warnings for young

people who take
Some parents have
already taken their
children off the
Even with the
troubles they've
had, Murphy and
her parents are
not speaking out
against antide-
Instead, they are
of families, doctors

The Food a
has begunt
"black box"
on antidepr
warning of
among a number
and mental health

educating yourself as a parent," says
Cheryl Murphy, who is Shauna's mom
and leader of the southern Nevada chap-
ter of the Depression and Bipolar Sup-
port Alliance.
She found that it took two years and
more than one doctor to find a treatment
that helped her daughter. Eventually,
Shauna was diagnosed with bipolar dis-
order, which causes moods to fluctuate
between periods
ind Drug of depression
and high-energy
.tion mania. She now
to place takes an antipsy-
chotic medication.
labels "The medi-
cation I'm on is
ressants working quite
possible well," says Shau-
na, who's now 19
. and living with
her parents in Las
The Depression and Bipolar Support
Alliance, a Chicago-based organiza-
tion with chapters nationwide, provides
monitoring tips on its website.
In response to the warning-label
issue, Massachusetts-based Families for
Depression Awareness also is working
on a "depression monitoring tool" that
will provide guidelines to help parents
and patients track symptoms and medi-
cation side-effects. They expect to have

it done in the next few months.
Mental health experts who specialize
in young people agree that monitoring a
child on treatment is key, as is doing a
thorough evaluation.
"If a child comes in with symptoms
A, B and C, the symptoms should, at
worst, not get worse - and, at best,
they should start to get better. If not,
they're on the wrong medication," says
Rich Macur Brousil, director of child
and adolescent behavioral health at Mt.
Sinai Hospital in Chicago.
If medication is deemed necessary,
he says children should be started on the
lowest dose to see how they respond. He
and other mental health professionals
also strongly recommend that any psy-
chiatric medication be used in combina-
tion with counseling.
Bela Sood, who heads the division of
adolescent psychiatry at Virginia Com-
monwealth University, says signs that a
medication isn't working might include
heightened aggressiveness, unusually
bold behavior or a feeling that "you're
crawling out of your skin."
During an evaluation, she also asks
young patients directly if they have
thought about suicide.
"There's this myth that if you sug-
gest suicide to a kid that you might
turn someone into someone who's
considering suicide - and that's
wrong," says Sood.

groups who are taking the opportunity
to encourage families to get help for
young people with depression and other
mental health issues.
They are particularly focused on
teaching parents to monitor their chil-
dren and figure out which treatment
works for a particular child.
"It's a real process and a matter of


Women banned from voting in Saudi election

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia . (AP) - Women
may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first
nationwide elections, the government announced
yesterday, dashing hopes of progressive Saudis
and easing fears among conservatives that the
kingdom is moving too fast on reforms.
Some women considered the move yet anoth-
er indignity in a country where they need their
husbands' permission to study, travel or work.
But others said they wouldn't trust themselves
to judge whether a candidate is more than just a
handsome face.
The religious establishment had been lobbying
against women's participation in the elections,
diplomats said.
But an electoral official cited administrative
and logistical reasons yesterday for the deci-
sion to ban women from the municipal elections,
scheduled to be held in three stages from Feb. 10
to April 21.
The official, who spoke on condition of ano-
nymity, said there are not enough women to run
women's-only registration centers and polling

stations, and that only a fraction of the country's
women have the photo identity cards that would
have been needed to vote.
Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace
of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards -
introduced three years ago - because the photo-
graphs would show their faces unveiled.
Saudi women have limited freedoms. Without
written permission from a male guardian, they may
not travel, get an education or work. Regardless
of permissions, they are not allowed to drive, mix
with men in public or leave home without covering
themselves with black cloaks, called abayas.
The decision was first announced by Interior
Minister Prince Nayef in an interview published
yesterday. In his terse comment to a Kuwaiti
newspaper, Nayef said only: "I don't think that
women's participation is possible."
His remark was the first by a named top offi-
cial on the issue. It settled a question that had
been occupying Saudis since the government set
the date for the elections in August. When the
election law was published, it did not explicitly

bar women from voting, which encouraged three
women to declare themselves candidates.
"I am surprised," said Nadia Bakhurji, 37, the
first woman to announce she planned to run. "I was
optimistic and didn't think they would ban it."
Bakhurji said she hoped
Nayef and the elections "I don't thi
committee would "rethink
their decision" and show women s p
transparency by saying why 1-i
women have been banned. jS P SSile
She said that would give
women the chance to "work
hand-in-hand with them to Interior Min
solve these problems in time
for elections," said Bakhurji,
an architect and a mother of two.
"My concern is if they don't bring us on board
now, we will be fighting for something that
should be a given right," she said.
Not all Saudi women agree. Taking a break
from shopping at the food court of a Riyadh
mall, Nour Ahmed and her five female friends

split evenly on the issue.
"Women are capable of voting and making the
right choices," said Ahmed, a 22-year-old mar-
keting graduate. "Why aren't men and women
equal in this issue?"


ink that
- Prince Nayef
ister of Saudi Arabia

"We aren't," countered
her friend Sarah Muham-
mad. "We have so little
interaction with men that,
we will vote with our
emotions, choosing can-
didates for their looks and
sweet talk rather than for
what they can deliver."
Rima Khaled, 20, said

Saudi women are not used
to playing a role in public life, and many social
and traditional restraints should first be removed
before they can.
"What's the point of voting?" she asked.
"Even if we did vote, we would go home to the
men in our lives who will have the last say in
whatever we do."



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