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March 15, 2003
A HOUGHTON pensioner may have killed herself as a result of the very medicine meant to lift her depression, city coroner Martin Shaw has suggested.
Now the death of 64-year-old Enid McDermott is to be referred to the national medicine watchdog.
Mrs McDermott died of four self-inflicted stab wounds in November last year, at the home in Glebe Street, Houghton, she shared with her husband, Gordon.
An inquest at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday heard that the retired insurance agent had been suffering from depression for about a month before her death and had been prescribed Prozac shortly before she died.
Her daughter Janice told the hearing that the way Mrs McDermott had died had been totally out of character:
“She hated pain. If she had taken an overdose, it would have been in some way understandable,” she said.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Shaw commented on the method Mrs McDermott had chosen to end her life.
“You have got to have either amazing courage to do this or be temporarily very mentally disturbed,” he said.
“However disturbed her mind was, she has, nevertheless, taken her own life.
“In the past, there has been concern raised in some very limited cases as to the effect of the drug Prozac and there have been suggestions that sometimes the taking of it increases the risk of suicidal actions and behaviour in the early stages of its use, before it kicks in.”
Experts had failed to find any such link, added Mr Shaw, but he could not rule out the possibility and would send details of the hearing to the national Committee on the Safety of Medicines:
“I have had occasions before, in very similar cases, where it looks as if it might be involved.
“It is a possibility that could explain these dreadful actions,” he said.