Durango women die by suicide — (The Durango Herald)

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The Durango Herald

July 20, 2007

By Shane Benjamin, Herald Staff Writer

In two unrelated cases, two Durango women have died by suicide after overdosing on multiple prescription drugs, La Plata County Coroner Dr. Carol Huser has ruled.

Trena Sue Floyd Herrick, 43, died at her home June 16.

Sheila Philips, 61, died at her home June 17.

Huser said the investigation showed that both women purposely overdosed on drugs prescribed for depression and other symptoms.

Toxicology reports reveal that Herrick had one drug in her system that was at a toxic level. Philips had a pain killer and an antidepressant drug that were at toxic levels. Both women had multiple antidepressant types of drugs in their systems.

Huser said combining multiple prescription drugs can result in dangerous consequences, including death. It does not take an outrageous dosage of any one drug to cause problems, she said.

“The presence of multiple antidepressant drugs, even when individually not in a toxic or lethal range, can combine in an additive to cause death,” Huser said.

Huser said she looks at the history of individuals and the circumstances of a death, as well as police reports and medical records, in determining whether drug overdoses resulted in suicide.

Also, the type of drugs in a person’s system can provide clues as to whether an overdose was accidental or intentional. Pain killers and sedatives have a tendency to be abused recreationally because they make users feel a high, Huser said. Antidepressants generally aren’t abused because they don’t provide a high.

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