Glasgow & West Scotland

Mother wants law change over prescribing drugs to teenagers

Britney Mazzoncini Image copyright Facebook/Britney's plea
Image caption Ms McKenzie says Britney might still be alive if she had known about the drugs she was prescribed

The mother of a 16-year-old who took her own life after being bullied online has told BBC Scotland under 18s should not be prescribed powerful medication without parental consent.

Britney Mazzoncini from Glasgow took an overdose of anti-anxiety tablets.

Her mum, Annette McKenzie, only found out after her death that her daughter had visited her GP and spoken of suicidal thoughts.

Ms McKenzie has launched an online petition to the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Call Kaye programme, she said: "We are too quick to hand out drugs to children at 14, 15, 16 rather than getting to the root of the actual problem.

"I think children are children at 16. Up until the age of 18, I think children need to have parental consent."

Ms McKenzie told presenter Kaye Adams that Britney had been a victim of online bullying from about the age of 14, after coming out as bisexual.

She said: "She got a lot of stick for it and got bullied quite a bit. Her confidence was always low. We would speak about it. We would always talk and try and sort things out."

The teenager's mother said in the months before her death things seemed to have improved for Britney after she left school and a got job, however, she later learned that her daughter had still been suffering and had gone to see her doctor.

"I just think she took it all to heart. The words still hurt," she said.

"My own daughter didn't understand what was wrong with her own head. She went to her doctor for help."

Image copyright Facebook/Britney's plea
Image caption Britney was a victim of online bullying

In June this year, Britney was prescribed anti-anxiety tablets. She took her own life on 7 July.

Ms McKenzie has said she believes her daughter would still be alive if she had been informed about the drugs she was taking.

"She was prescribed anti-anxiety tablets. She used that medication to end her life," she told Kaye.

"If I knew Britney had those tablets I would have gone back to the doctor with her. If the doctor had convinced me that Britney needed those tablets I would have taken control and prescribed and dispensed them to Britney as and when she needed them.

"So there would have been no chance of her being able to act on the thoughts she was having."

Currently GPs do not need to seek parental consent to prescribe medication to those aged 16, and under, if the young person is deemed to be competent to understand the nature of the treatment and potential consequences of the treatment.

Ms McKenzie wants the guidelines changed.

Her petition, called Britney's Plea, asks Holyrood's petitions committee to investigate the issue and try to ensure "no more parents have to go through what I have gone through in recent months".

It said: "The quantity and strength of medications prescribed to Britney represented a danger to herself, and I believe that my daughter may still be with us if I had been privy to the information that was vital to her care and health issues.

"There are undoubtedly cases where young people with mental health issues require prescription medication, in addition to other forms of care. However this should only be done in the case of under-18s with the involvement, knowledge and consent of the parents or guardians."

The petition has more than 900 signatures and is being supported by the family's local MP Chris Stephens.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Any death by suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating impact on family, friends and communities.

"More young people are coming forward to seek help as the stigma surrounding mental health declines. Prescriptions are a clinical decision for doctors and their patient - in line with official guidance on young people and consent."

Britney's case is under investigation by the General Medical Council.

Ms McKenzie told BBC Scotland she hopes her petition will raise awareness about the issue and prevent other families from suffering.

She added: "As a parent I could have supported Britney at home and kept an eye on her and her medication.

"I wasn't give the choice to do that."

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