Mother ponders daughter’s suicide — (The East Valley Tribune)

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The East Valley Tribune

Tracy Kurtinitis

Sep 14, 2004

There were no warning signs one late afternoon in October 2002 in Scottsdale.

McKenna Winters-Everly was a vivacious 13-year-old. Downright spunky, really. When she didn’t make the chorus, she took her case to the choral director and outlined why she should be included. Then, on Oct. 15, McKenna napped before her debut choral concert — a concert she would never attend.

Instead, she would be dead before the sun went down.

Nearly 22 months later, her mother, Veronica Winters-Everly, can’t understand why her daughter hung herself with the belt from her bathrobe. She believes the antidepressant her daughter took, Paxil, contributed to her death.

Winters-Everly is not alone in her conclusion. Some medical experts agree and will continue discussions with the Food and Drug Administration today in Washington, D.C., to determine whether stronger language is necessary to warn parents of the risks to adolescents who take Luvox, Effexor and Paxil.

This week’s meetings in Washington come after research has linked suicidal tendencies to children who take antidepressants.

For Winters-Everly, the warning comes too late.

“She seemed very stable that night and even talked with her best friend,” Winters-Everly said of McKenna’s last hours. “Her friend asked her what she was doing and she said she was watching a movie in the living room, but what she was really doing was planning it out — she was alone in her bedroom.”

When McKenna didn’t come out in time to get ready for her concert, her mother knew something was wrong. She discovered her daughter hanging from the ceiling fan.

Now almost two years later, she wants to warn parents about the possible adverse effects of antidepressants She’s also concerned about the amount of time psychiatrists spend with patients on the drugs.

“He’d meet with her for 15 minutes every few months,” she said of McKenna’s relationship with her psychiatrist.

Scottsdale’s Dr. Raun Melmed said psychiatrists are often subject to insurance companies’ constraints.

The developmental pediatrician said he sees a lot of depressed children in his office and supports the FDA reopening its examination of Paxil.