‘He died trying to live’ — (The Reno Gazette Journal)

SSRI Ed note: Stressed man given antidepressants, becomes suicidal, attempts suicide. Within 2 months of starting AD goes to hospital. Not admitted, shoots, kills himself.

Original article no longer available

The Reno Gazette Journal

By Frank X. Mullen Jr.   fmullen@rgj.com

October 3, 2009

Andrew Darsky was 36 years old when he went to a Reno emergency room July 23 and told employees he was planning to kill himself.

About an hour later, while in the Renown Regional Medical Center valet parking area waiting for a hospital room, he pressed a pistol to his chest and pulled the trigger.

Friends and family said his life had unraveled in less than a year. A combination of worry about his son’s illness, job stress and financial pressures related to the recession ganged up on him.

He knew he was suicidal. He did what he was supposed to do: Ask for help.

“He died trying to live,” said his wife, Sara.

In May, he was prescribed anti-depressants in Reno. In June, after a suicide attempt, he checked himself into a hospital near his parents’ home in Colorado. He stayed three days and returned to Nevada.

He had an appointment with a therapist in Reno on July 24, but died the evening before while seeking help at Renown. He left a wife and 17-month-old son behind.

Sara Darsky’s last text message from her husband, sent from the hospital parking area minutes before he died, read: “I love you.”

‘Everything going for him’

Andrew Michael Darsky was born May 19, 1973 in Orange, N.J. His family moved to Greeley, Colo. in 1978, when Andrew was in kindergarten.

Photos of Andrew as a child show a typical American kid at a birthday party, in a Cub Scout uniform and pulling a rabbit out of a hat while wearing a magician’s costume on Halloween.

Patrick Earhart, of Broomfield, Colo., met Andrew in the sixth grade in Greeley.

“We were best friends since middle school,” Earhart said. “He was a fun guy, very, very compassionate. I know it’s a cliché, but he really would give you the shirt off his back. He had a fierce loyalty to friends. He was a fantastic person.”

Andrew graduated from University High School in 1991 and attended AIMS Community College in Greeley.

Earhart said Andrew was a “life of the party type of person,” but could also be awkward and had a tendency to undervalue himself. He had periods of “dark moods” as a teenager and young man, he said.

“It wasn’t like once a month or anything. It was maybe every few years he’d get in a rut and want to change his life,” he said. “He’d have a blue spell and not be satisfied with his life.”

He married Sara Nicole Cox on Sept. 18, 1999, in Greeley. In 2005 the couple moved to Reno where Sara had a job at a software corporation and Andrew got a position as a human resources manager for a distribution firm. Their son, Cullen, was born in 2007.

“Andrew absolutely loved Sara,” Earhart said. “He was happy and proud to be a father. He seemed to have everything going for him.”

‘Worries were the trigger’

Cullen had medical problems within his first 10 weeks of life. He developed pneumonia, worrying his parents. About the same time, a swarm of earthquakes hit Northern Nevada and the couple never knew when their house was going to shake, increasing their anxiety. Andrew’s company was going through changes and layoffs, an added burden to him as a human resource manager, Sara said.

“Andrew really started feeling the anxiety,” she said. “All these worries were the trigger. Then the economy collapsed.”

The downturn created more worries about Andrew keeping his job and the fact that the Darskys were “upside down” on their house. “We bought at the real estate peak,” Sara said.

Andrew sought help. In May, he went to a clinic and was seen by a nurse practitioner. He was prescribed a variety of drugs, including antidepressants and sleeping pills, according to his medical records.

“That stuff really changes your brain chemistry,” Sara said.

Sara said the pills seemed to make things worse. Andrew was tense during the day, and when he took sleeping pills, he sometimes awoke and then could not remember being awake. Sara hid his keys at night for fear he’d drive during one of his blackouts.

His friends in Reno knew he was sad, but said they weren’t aware he was suicidal.

“I knew he was going through a bad time,” said Dan Scinto, who worked with Andrew at the distribution firm. “The economic mess hit everyone, and he wasn’t happy with the changes in his job. With the job market the way it is, his ability to move was very limited.
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“He was very frustrated, very down. He said he’d been taking prescription antidepressants and wanted to stop, but he said he thought he needed them. He never mentioned thoughts of suicide.”

In June, Andrew attempted suicide by cutting his wrists and then went to Colorado and admitted himself into a hospital.

He saw Earhart in Colorado.

“People might say that suicide is a selfish act, but I don’t think so in Andrew’s case,” he said. “In his eyes, he believed his family would be better off without him. He thought he was hurting his family by being depressed, by being in that mood all the time. He thought he was a burden to Sara.

“I tried to tell him, ‘you are never a burden to people who love you,'” Earhart said.

Text: ‘I love you’

Andrew came back from Colorado, and two weeks later, on the day before he died, he told Scinto that things were getting better.

The morning of July 23, he went to work, left at noon and didn’t answer Sara’s phone calls, she said.

While he was in the parking area at Renown, he texted “I love you” to Sara. She called him. He told her he was at an emergency room, but said he was at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

While sitting in his Jeep waiting for a room at Renown, he wrote a note instructing those who found his body to call his brother first. He wanted his brother to tell his wife.

“He was looking for help the whole time he was sick,” said Andrew’s brother, Richard Darsky, a Las Vegas dentist. “He was supposed to be treated and cared for and taken care of. Instead, the system failed him all the way along the route.”

Unable to locate Andrew at Saint Mary’s, Sara arrived at Renown after Andrew’s body was taken inside. She saw his red Jeep and a tarp covering the
asphalt next to the vehicle. A police officer told her what happened. She collapsed.

“He was a kind soul, a very caring person, and he was wickedly funny,” Sara said. “He loved to be able to help people, to help animals.

“In the end, he sought help, but no one was around to help him.”