After Change in Prescription for Depression, Man Burns Himself to Death—(Inside Nova)

Original article no longer available.

Inside Nova

By Uriah A. Kiser

Published: April 7, 2009

Police say a Woodbridge man doused himself in propane and lit himself on fire in his backyard Saturday.

His mother, awakened by her dogs barking, found a horrifying scene ­ her son ablaze in the middle of the street. Emma Reed, 75, said she’s heartbroken.

“I’m really torn up because you never think anything like this would ever happen,” she said.

Police said Robert Reed, 48, of East Longview Drive, had been involved in an argument with a family member hours before setting himself on fire in the backyard around 3 a.m. He ran around to the front, where his mother and police officers found him.

He suffered burns over 100 percent of his body and died Sunday at Washington Hospital Center, Prince William County police spokeswoman Erika Hernandez said.

Police said Reed was depressed because he had been without work for some time. Emma Reed said her son painted houses and apartment buildings in the Woodbridge area for a living, and did his best to find regular work.

He took medications for depression for years, and recently had his prescription changed by his doctor, she said.

Reed said she believes the change in her son’s medication ­ and his lingering depression over his father’s death more than five years ago ­ played a role in his suicide.

Reed described her son as a kind man that would do anything for anyone.

“There’s not a person in this neighborhood that wouldn’t tell you he was a nice guy. If you were broke down, he would fix your car for you. He did a lot of things for a lot of people,” said Reed.

The man is survived by his 30-year-old daughter and two sons ­ ages 30 and 23, said Reed.

“I’ll just have to try and go on the best I can but I’ll never forget him. He’ll always remain in my heart until the day I die,” she said.

Police dealt with another suicide attempt in the county late Monday. A 42-year-old man who just lost his job was threatening to shoot himself at his family’s home on Pleasant View Court in Nokesville.

Police got family members safely out of the house and then talked the man into coming out peacefully, Hernandez said.

And to the south, a man was found dead in the parking lot of Stafford Hospital Center late last week, the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The new Stafford hospital opened its doors to patients Feb. 27.

Stafford Sun managing editor Tracy Bell contributed to this story.
Staff writer Uriah A. Kiser can be reached at 703-878-8065.