Lancaster widow sues U.S. over Iraq vet’s suicide

SSRI Ed note: VA prescribes Vet Zoloft for depression, doubles dose, he quits it due to side effects, dies by suicide. NEver warned of suicide risk, family files lawsuit.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer

A Lancaster widow has sued the U.S. government over the post-combat death of her husband, a 23-year-old Iraq war veteran who committed suicide while under VA medical care.

During his 2003 tour in Iraq, Donald Woodward killed three Iraqis in battle and suffered the death of his lieutenant, his family said. He went to the VA Medical Center in Lebanon, Pa., in November 2005 after a third suicide attempt. After less than four months of outpatient care, he killed himself.

The federal suit was filed Monday by Tiera Woodward, 26. A Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman said the agency does not typically comment on pending litigation.

Woodward was initially treated for depression and post-traumatic stress. On Feb. 2, 2006, a VA psychiatrist diagnosed major depression, the suit states, and doubled his dosage of the antidepressant Zoloft, which carries a warning that it can increase suicidal thinking and behavior in some young people.

By month’s end, Woodward told the doctor he had stopped taking the medicine because of diarrhea. No follow-up visit was scheduled, the suit states. Family members argue that they should have been made aware of missed appointments, the stopped medication and other developments. – AP