Coroner: FM mom who killed family took anti-depressants — (The Dallas Morning News)

SSRI Ed note: Woman on Zoloft murders her husband and children, then kills herself. News article (no longer accessible online) reports suspicions that Zoloft played a role.

Original article no longer available

The Dallas Morning News

10:35 PM CDT on Monday, August 27, 2007

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News,

It’s unclear if drug found in Zoloft played role in family’s killing

The Flower Mound mother accused of killing her husband and children and then committing suicide last month had a history of depression and paranoia and was taking the drug found in the anti-depressant Zoloft, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

Andrea Roberts, 41, and her family were found dead July 31 at their home in the 1800 block of Marble Pass Drive. She and her husband, Michael, 41, and their two children, 11-year-old Micayla and 7-year-old Dylan, died from gunshot wounds.

Studies have found that in some cases, Zoloft and other drugs in the same class can increase suicidal thoughts, particularly among young people.

Officer Steven Caldwell, a Flower Mound police spokesman, said there’s probably no way to know whether the medication was a factor in the suspected murder-suicide.

“It’s a very odd and rare occurrence for a medication to make somebody think that it was OK to shoot their family,” he said. “I don’t know that we could ever put the correlation together.”

Linda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner, said that Ms. Roberts was apparently taking Zoloft or its generic equivalent at a normal, therapeutic dosage. It was unclear how long Mrs. Roberts had been taking the anti-depressant.

In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration ordered companies that manufacture Zoloft and some other anti-depressants to place warning labels on the prescriptions after clinical trials suggested the drugs could increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in some children and teenagers. Those drug companies agreed this May to expand the warnings to include adults ages 18 to 24 at the request of the FDA.

Pfizer Inc., the maker of Zoloft, has agreed to out-of-court settlements in several lawsuits filed by the families of people who committed suicide after taking the drug.

Police said that Mrs. Roberts left a suicide note, but the contents have not been released to the public.