THE COLONY — Last January, nine-year-old Montana Lance took his own life in a school bathroom. Since that day, many have searched for the answer to one question: Why?
It's a question that may never be answered, but the youngster's family can't help but wonder if a drug he was taking for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) had something to do with it.
The prescription drug is called Vyvanse, also known as lisdexamfetamine. It is an amphetamine used to treat ADHD, and Montana Lance was taking it.
So were at least two other children who have also taken their own lives.
When Montana was found dead at Stewart's Creek Elementary School, parents in The Colony couldn't believe a nine-year-old boy would hang himself in a school bathroom.
The autopsy report said amphetamines were found in his blood.
Montana's parents declined to go on camera, but confirmed to News 8 that Montana had been taking a new medication for ADHD, Vyvanse.
Vyvanse went on the market in 2007. Since then, there have been more than 130 reports to the FDA concerning Vyvanse and suicide, ranging from people as old as 54 to children as young as 6.
The FDA says 37 Vyvanse patients who considered suicide were younger than 10. There were at least two seven-year-olds who completed the act.
In all of 2007, only four people under age 10 committed suicide in the United States.
"For the most part, it is a very safe medication," said Dr. Syed Quadri of Texas Health Springwood Hospital, who prescribes Vyvanse for some of his pediatric patients. He said there is a known risk for all stimulants and ADHD drugs — especially if there are symptoms of bipolar disorder or depression.
"When you don't treat that and you're just treating ADHD, yes, you are going to have somebody who is depressed and irritable, and can commit suicide," Dr. Quadri said.
Shire, the manufacturer of Vyvanse, would not comment specifically on the Montana Lance case, but sent News 8 this statement:
"It is important to note that simply because there is a specific medication present in a person's system at the time of their passing, it does not mean the medication had any correlation with the cause of their passing."
On the medication guide for Vyvanse, the FDA warns of new psychotic symptoms linked to amphetamines, and tells patients to tell their doctor about any family history of bipolar disorder or suicide.
Montana's mother told News 8 she suspected her son was bipolar, but the condition had never been diagnosed.
Melissa Petty leads the North Texas ADD support group. She's also the parent of an ADHD child. She says parents need to trust their instincts and ask questions before their child is prescribed any ADHD drug. Her advice: Make sure you see a child psychiatrist, not just a pediatrician.
"These medications are serious. They're expensive. You need to have somebody who has experience treating ADHD in children, and has lots of experience," Petty said.
The Lance family still believes Montana was bullied into suicide. But they continue to look for other reasons a nine-year-old would end his own life.
The FDA says its data on drug reactions are based on reports from doctors. The agency says it cannot determine that a drug is unsafe based solely on those reports.