Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2015 [‘Jake’s Amendment’]: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Act of 1962 to provide for a verdict of Iatrogenic Suicide and related matters.

This Bill is to be known as "Jake's Amendment". 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 the antidepressant drug despite research stating the drug has no benefit for children with Asperger's syndrome and despite the emerging evidence of harm.

In the midst of their grief, Jake's parents have come to understand that their personal tragedy is one that has been shared by thousands of families whose loved ones have died as a result of antidepressant-induced suicide. I welcome Jake's parents, John and Stefani, to the Visitors Gallery today. They have worked 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. 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. Iatrogenic 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.

We understand that the publishing of this Bill is symbolic. It is obvious that the Coroners Act 1962 is no longer fit for purpose and should be repealed and replaced with an amended version of the Coroners Bill 2007 as a matter of priority. 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. When it is finally amended, this list should provide for a verdict of iatrogenic suicide to be made.

I hope the Government will support this Bill.

Is the Bill opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.