Woman’s death ruled suicide — (PhillyBurbs)

SSRI Ed note: Woman taking Lexapro and Benedryl drinks alcohol, commits suicide by burning herself to death in her car.

Original article no longer available


By FREDA R. SAVANA, The Intelligencer

January 28, 2005 8:23 AM

The death of Deborah Rogers, 44, of Doylestown, officially was ruled a suicide this week by Bucks County Coroner Joseph Campbell.

Rogers was found burned to death in her car New Year’s night on an access road leading to an unmanned communications tower off Old Limekiln Pike in New Britain Township.

Though officials had indicated earlier that they believed the death a suicide, Campbell had been awaiting a toxicology report to confirm the manner of death. He said Rogers died from a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning and burns.

The report also showed she had drunk roughly between five and nine drinks, according to the coroner’s office and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.18.

Her body had a “significant amount” of undigested Benadryl and evidence of an antidepressant in her system, said Campbell. But he noted, “as far as drugs go, what she had in her was not of a fatal level.”

Rogers’ husband, Michael, said his wife had been taking Lexapro, an antidepressant, for at least two years.

Immediately after Deborah’s death, Michael said he began wondering if there might be a link between the drug and his wife’s suicide.

“I’ve just been looking into it since day one. There is no connection between how Deb lived her life and how she took her life.”

He described his spouse of 15 years as a “sweetheart” who was “extremely capable and productive.”

“I don’t want my wife to be remembered by the manner of her death,” said Michael.

The Rogerses moved to Doylestown in 1996 from Delray Beach, Fla. Deborah worked as an office administrator for an executive search firm, FPC Fortune Inc., in Warminster.

Her boss and owner of the company, Michael Strand, remembered her as “an amazing woman … she essentially ran the company,” he said.

Janie Theis, a longtime friend of Debbie’s, said she was a kind, loving person who put others first.

“She was the nicest person anyone could ever want to meet. She never complained about her life and always was happy for everyone, never envious.”

Lexapro, manufactured by Forest Pharmaceuticals, is a selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, prescribed to some 4 million patients in the United States, according to the company’s Web site. It was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for major depression and in 2003 for general anxiety disorder.

It has not been linked to suicide in adults but was one of numerous antidepressants that came under recent scrutiny by the FDA for a possible connection to suicide in children and adolescents. It is among the antidepressants receiving new labeling designed to make people aware of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in children who take it.

A representative of Forest Pharmaeuticals did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Michael Rogers said the little investigation he has done showed SSRIs are “a huge issue that appears to have tentacles that reach far beyond my wife.” He has not decided what, if any, action he might take regarding the drug.

“It has only been in the last week or so,” he said, that he could talk about Deborah’s death. “At some point, I will try to look at options.”

Before deciding on an investigation of any kind, Michael said, he would have to consider the impact on his 10-year-old son.

But, he added, “If I could save or help one life, I would. No one else should go through this pain.”

Freda R. Savana can be reached at (215) 345-3061 or fsavana@phillyBurbs.com.