Family believes flu medication led to teen’s suicide
(Source: WXIN via CNN)
(WXIN/CNN) – An Indiana teen committed suicide days after being diagnosed with the flu, and his family worries the medicine he took to relieve his symptoms may be to blame.
Charlie Harp was a 16-year-old high school wrestler who thrived in his classes, according to his loved ones.
The teen was diagnosed with the flu last Thursday. Doctors gave him a prescription for Tamiflu to help beat the virus.
Jackie Ray, the teen’s aunt and guardian, said he took the medication as soon as they picked it up from the pharmacy.
“We started it right in the car,” Ray told WXIN.
Less than 24 hours later, Ray said she texted her nephew but never got a response.
“I knew something was wrong,” she said. “My husband came home and found him in the house.”
Ray’s husband, Brad, discovered the teen had committed suicide in the garage.
The couple said Harp had never expressed suicidal thoughts and had no signs of depression. They said the only change was him taking the flu medication.
“Had I know this was an issue, I would’ve never given it to him,” said Ray.
The Tamiflu warning label clearly states pediatric patients may be at an increased risk of confusion or abnormal behavior.
Dr. Jason Henney who works at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis told WXIN he hasn’t seen any patients with extreme Tamiflu side effects, such as psychosis.
"The reality with Tamiflu is that if the flu typically lasts seven days, it shortens that duration by about 12 hours. So it's not a big dramatic difference maker for most people who have the flu,” he said.
A spokesperson for Tamiflu said although the company cannot comment on this specific case, "neuropsychiatric events have been reported during the administration of Tamiflu in patients with influenza, especially in children and adolescents.”
The maker also said patients should be closely monitored for changes in behavior.
As the family awaits answers, the couple said they’re finding strength in the outpouring of support from their community.