Woman's death was suicide, MD tells inquest — (Toronto Star)

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The Toronto Star

by Kate Harries, Ontario Reporter

October 22, 2002 – 01:00 EDT

SUDBURY — The family doctor of a pregnant woman who died while under house arrest for welfare fraud told an inquest yesterday that he believed she committed suicide.

“As to why, we’ll never know,” said Dr. Robert Clendenning, who said he based his conclusion on the lethal level of the antidepressant amitriptyline found in Kimberly Rogers’ blood after her death.

Clendenning added that Rogers deceived him to obtain an extra prescription of the drug a month before her death. She told him she had left her medication in Barrie. The amitriptyline bottle from that prescription was found empty beside her body Aug. 9, a month before her baby was due.

He said there was nothing to indicate on her last visit that she was suicidal. On earlier visits, she felt positive about her pregnancy, said Clendenning, who was her doctor since 1998.

The doctor said he was unaware that Rogers had been charged with defrauding the welfare system of $13,000 until after her conviction April 25, 2001 and subsequent suspension of benefits. When he saw Rogers in May, she told him of an appeal being filed on her behalf, as well as her unpaid rent and lack of food. She said the stress had caused her to use up her amitriptyline by taking up to 250 mg a day.

Clendenning increased her dose to the maximum of 300 mg, emphasizing the danger of exceeding that. “I said “This is it, more than this is toxic. If you take one week’s supply, well, you’ll probably die.'”