What does the suicide of Ian Mautner tell us about Kratom? Can we draw any worthwhile conclusions because one young man chooses to kill himself while under the influence of antidepressants, caffeine, Kratom, and an anti-seizure medication?
Why Blame Kratom?
Kratom is used daily by millions of Americans for chronic pain, anxiety, fatigue, depression, blood-sugar control and to produce a general feeling of well-being without impairment. If it causes suicide, why aren't we seeing more suicides? Instead, among the converts to Kratom, we hear stories of a renewed enjoyment of life, after years of wanting to die while they took antidepressants.
It is ridiculous that we are hearing Ian Mautner's story all over again! This story is a "red herring" left to distract the public from the significant issues that should be discussed concerning pharmaceutical vs. naturally-occurring remedies for depression.
There was another suspect at the scene of the crime that was let go without even questioning him. The FDA even put out a warning on this suspect due to his presence at previous suicides of children and young adults.
In fact, this suspect -- that always is let go Scott free -- has been involved in nearly every mass murder in recent years, but he is never blamed. He must have very good attorneys ... or a "Get-Out-of-Jail-Free" card in his pocket.
If we are going to blame substances, drugs, for making people do the things they do -- as if people have no free will -- why not question one of the prime suspects in the suicide of Ian Mautner?
Who is that suspect? It is not Kratom; Kratom was chosen to be the fall-guy, the patsy. Kratom is the "new kid in town", that is intruding on the turf that "belongs" to the drugs that have been proclaimed the only medically-approved treatment for depression, addiction, and anxiety.
So, Who Is This Mysterious Suspect?
The one suspect present at so many impulsive acts of violence (that were rare before he came on the scene) is synthetic psychotropic medications, specifically antidepressants of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor class (SSRIs).
But why are we even talking in terms of "Did Kratom Kill Ian Mautner?" Ian Mautner killed himself -- this wasn't a poisoning or an overdose, at least not an overdose of Kratom.
Why did Ian Mautner choose to kill himself on the afternoon of June 16, 2014? His mother says Kratom did it, though Kratom is not known to cause suicide and many claim it has saved them from suicide.
What are we to believe? More importantly, WHO are we to believe since Ian left no suicide note about his motives.
His death seems to have been an impetuous decision, with no planning his closest friends were aware of.
But once again, news agencies are dragging Ian Mautner from his grave, in an attempt to prove that Kratom addiction does, indeed, kill. But is this true? Let's see what the science says.
First, there is the question of whether Kratom is, indeed, addictive? Who or what is to blame for addiction? Is addiction in the nature of the substance, or is it the responsibility of the user?
"We need to move the focus from the drug that is used to the person who is using it. No drug is inherently more evil than the other and the overwhelming majority of drug users do not become addicted. This shows that the drugs themselves are not the problem." Dr. Carl Hart
Dr. Hart says only a small percentage of those who use heroin, cocaine, crack, or methamphetamine on a regular basis become addicted. The same is true of coffee and Kratom. Most people find it harder to quit coffee than to quit using Kratom. As with any herb or food item, if the overall effect is beneficial and any side-effects are manageable, why would we want to quit it?
If the fact that a few people do become addicted to Kratom is a reason to make it a Schedule One drug, why aren't alcohol and many prescription drugs banned? Haven't we, as a society, been down that road before, only to find it is a dead end?
Have Our Legislators Learned Nothing from the History of Prohibitions -- Such as the fact that they don't work? Could it be that certain industries and law enforcement agencies enjoy the enhanced cash flow that prohibition of a new substance provides? Why should the public be asked again to support an expensive failure that they will pay for with their taxes and lose their freedom to use this herb, if someday they need it?
Alcohol kills 88,000 Americans a year, on average, yet grieving mothers and hungry lawyers are struggling to pin one death on Kratom by twisting the meaning of the word "Kill".
Kratom Didn't Kill Ian Mautner; Ian Mautner Did -- But Why?
How many kids of Ian's age kill themselves every year? In 2014, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 11.6 per 100,000 population in U.S. For many years, men have had a suicide rate about 4 times higher than women.
How many suicides of young adults and children happen while taking antidepressants? The conclusion of a research study by the National Institutes of Health tells us: "...in children, adolescents and young adults being treated with SSRIs, there is an increased risk of attempted suicide."
How many young and old are saved from suicide by Kratom every year? Let's see some comments of how many readers have been saved by Kratom. As usual, few, if any of the studies being done on Kratom are done to show the good that Kratom is doing. We, in the online Kratom community, see these Do-It-Yourself rehabs happening in real time, nearly every day. We can tell the good that Kratom is doing, if anyone is willing to hear it.
Since Ian's mother's campaign against Kratom continues with the help of Representative Kristin Jacobs, it is time to tell some critically important events that led up to Ian's suicide.
Personally, I believe suicide is, in almost all cases, the wrong thing to do. As someone once said, "Suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem." Things always get better, especially for a young, healthy fellow with so much going for him. Why not move away from his unloving family? Get a job, hit the road, anything to find a place where you belong, are accepted, and can build a life of the kind you want to live.
Unfortunately, Ian Mautner did not receive this wise advice. I spoke with one young woman who spent 3 hours with him, on the night before he killed himself. He talked over and over about something that was troubling him, but it wasn't addiction to Kratom. He said nothing about suicide. She said he seemed all right.
Kratom Doesn't Kill People, but Suicide Does
We don't hear that Ian Mautner had a previous history of opioid drug addiction, but the two anti-depressants he was prescribed hint that he might have had a history of drug abuse. His mother never mentions anything but his "problems" with Kratom.
We know Ian sought treatment in a rehab facility in September 2013 and January 2014. Was this for opiates or Kratom? We don't have access to these records, so we don't know. What we do know is that the drugs he was taking at the time of his death are ones commonly prescribed for recovering opiate addicts.
Here's what Drugs.com has to say about the interaction of Trazodone and Citalopram:
MAJOR: "Using citalopram together with trazodone can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death."
One of the other interactions was classed as Moderate, but may have some relevance as to why Ian Mautner killed himself, purportedly because he was frustrated that he couldn't quit his Kratom habit (We only have heard this from his mother, btw.):
"Using trazodone together with gabapentin may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people ... may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination. Also avoid activities requiring mental alertness ..."
Making any serious decision, such as whether to live or die, might require mental alertness, don't you think?
We don't know what twenty-year-old Ian had on his mind that day. We do know that the prescription drugs he was taking were not suited to calmly making a very important decision -- and getting it right the first time.
Oddly enough, a nurse and a former rehab patient confirmed to me that it was "very, very common" for these two antidepressants to be used in combination for those recently out of rehab for opioid drugs, despite their potential interactions.
Making Ian Mautner the "poster child" as if this proves that Kratom causes suicide is, as mentioned earlier, a red herring excuse to distract the public, once again, from one of the true factors that have led to so much violence in modern-day America. Not only is blaming Kratom a distraction from the more obvious questions that should be asked in this and so many other acts of violence. Blaming Kratom is a way to keep us from examining a potential herbal solution to our problems of depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional dysfunctions our post-industrial society faces.
In the video above, Ian is quoted by his mother as acknowledging that their family has "the addiction gene" so, he reasoned that going to kava bars was safer for him than socializing at bars serving alcohol.
Whether an addiction gene exists or not is a matter of dispute. What we should know from the failures of alcohol prohibition and the War on Drugs is that banning substances for the protection of the few who cannot control themselves is not fair to the majority of the public that can.