AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER

MEDICATIONS LINKED TO TEEN SUICIDE

Acne pills and antidepressants have been targeted as potential triggers for teen suicide, in the National Children’s Commission inquiry into childhood self-harm. Commissioner Megan Mitchell revealed she would seek ­expert advice on whether antidepressant and acne medications were contributing to self-harm and suicide among young Australians. “There is certainly a debate … in the community about the role of antidepressants and other medications, like acne treatments,’’ she said. “There are all types of drugs administered to children that can have an impact on them taking their own lives or self-harming.

“The brain is still developing up to the age of 25 at least so it makes sense that particular drugs might impact on brain development at that time.’’ The Therapeutic Goods Administration has said it would consider a formal review of the acne medicine isotretinoin, linked to 18 suicides in Australia in the past five years. But the nation’s drugs watchdog said it would wait to evaluate the findings of an inquiry launched by the UK Commission on Human Medicines this week into Roaccutane, the most popular brand of the anti-acne pill. The TGA’s database of ­adverse events lists Roaccutane as a “suspected’’ cause of 14 suicides in the past five years — in which it was the only drug being taken.

In addition, the database links the drug to 14 other cases of suicidal ideation, five suicide ­attempts and two cases of intentional self-injury. The database does not provide details of the ages and sex of the patients taking the drug. Four more suicides were linked to other drugs containing isotretinoin, but the trade name was not specified. A TGA spokeswoman said the acne drug might be reviewed in light of the new British government study. “The TGA is aware of the proposed European review of isotretinoin and will evaluate this information to determine whether a review should be undertaken in Australia,’’ she said.

The TGA spokeswoman said the listing of “suspected’’ links between the acne drug and suicide “means the TGA thinks there is a possibility that the medicine caused the adverse event’’. She did not know how many cases had been reviewed, or the outcomes of any investigations. Roaccutane can only be prescribed by a specialist, usually a dermatologist, and its consumer information leaflet warns patients to tell their doctor immediately if they are “feeling depressed, with or without suicidal thoughts’’. A spokesman for the Roaccutane manufacturer said more than 17 million people worldwide had taken the drug to treat severe cystic acne, which failed to respond to conventional antibiotic treatment.

He said a review of available medical information “has not been able to confirm or refute causal associations’’ with depression and suicide. The Australian Medical Association’s child psychiatrist Choong-Siew Yong, said the link between suicide and prescription drugs was a “chicken or egg’’ issue. He said many patients who took Roaccutane might already feel “depressed or suicidal’’ as a result of low self-esteem or bullying over disfiguring acne. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data reveals 68,464 Australian children younger than 15 are prescribed “mental health related’’ medicines each year. A further 161,204 Australians aged between 15 and 24 take mental health prescription drugs.

Source: Mental Health Association of Australia

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TESTED AS CHRISTIAN YOUTH CAMPS APPEALS TO THE HIGH COURT

The appeal of a decision to the High Court by a Christian campsite in Victoria is set to test the extent of religious freedom in Australia. Following the dismissal of an appeal last month by the Victorian Court of Appeal, Christian Youth Camps (CYC) has brought the case in which the Christian group was ruled to have been unlawfully discriminative to the High Court of Australia. In an interview with the Australian Christian Lobby, Associate Professor Neil Foster from the University of Newcastle’s School of Law has expressed hope that the High Court would provide more clarity on the decision handed down by the State.

Speaking of the dismissal of CYC’s appeal, Foster said though the decision only formally applies to Victorian legislation, comments made in the judgement may be used in courts of other jurisdictions across Australia. “So there is a possibility that the fairly narrow interpretation that was given to freedom of religion in this case might become more widely applied across other areas in Australia where this becomes an issue,” he said. “That is why it has the potential to have a serious impact on narrowing freedom of religious exercise in Australia.” Speaking of similar cases overseas, Foster said: “This area of sexual orientation discrimination is becoming a big issue for Christian groups acting in the public sphere.”

In 2010, CYC was approached for a booking by the COBAW group. After realising that the event the community health group intended to host was aimed to teach and encourage attendees that homosexuality was a normal and natural part of life, CYC declined to take the booking, claiming that such activities were contrary to their fundamental beliefs. In court, CYC explained that the reason they declined the booking was that the Cobaw group was presenting and supporting a view that was contrary to the organisation’s own view on Christian morality, rather than the identity of the individuals of the group.

Source: Christian Today Australia

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QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT CALLED ON TO STOP FABRICATION OF CHILDREN’S BIRTH CERTIFICATES

The Queensland Government must act to stop the fabrication of kids’ birth certificates, says the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) following a Queensland judges’ ruling to alter two children’s birth certificates by removing the name of their biological father. In a first for the state of Queensland, the man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple will have his name removed from his two children’s birth certificates in a bid by the couple to be recognised as the legal parents. ACL’s Queensland director Wendy Francis said Justice Ann Lyons’ ruling was lying to the children about their origins and denying them their human rights under international law.

“Governments have a duty to always act in the best interest of the child. Justice Lyons’ ruling means urgent legislative changes are needed to put the rights of children ahead of the desires of adults,” Ms Francis said. According to the Brisbane Times, the man claimed he was happy to donate sperm but did not really want to be a parent. He however did not consent to being removed from his biological children’s birth certificates, insisting that he always wanted a relationship with the children. Ms Francis said the LNP promised to amend the Surrogacy Act to protect the rights of children and urged the Government to meet its election commitment.

“Children have the right to know their parents and as far as possible be cared for by them”, as outlined in Article 7 of the United Nations Rights of the Child, she said. Recent parliamentary inquiries in New South Wales and Victoria and a Senate inquiry had all found that donor conceived children had been severely traumatised by not knowing their biological origins. In Justice Lyons’ written judgement she ruled that the register will now “accurately reflect the correct parents for the children and the true nature of the relationship between (the couple).” In an ongoing, separate case, it is yet to be determined whether the father will be able to have contact with his children.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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