There is evidence that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can induce suicides and homicides. Andy Vickery, a trial lawyer from Houston, Texas and a leading authority in this area, explains this in a 20-minute video. Click here to view his presentation.
In wrongful death claims involving SSRIs, pharmaceutical companies argue that it was the illness that caused the psychosis, not the drug. This was also my diagnosis; that my major depression triggered my psychotic episode. There is, however, a strong argument that Paxil caused my psychosis.
I was in a major depression at the beginning of July 2004 when I put myself back on my previous prescription of Paxil and again when I arrived at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in November 2004 to be assessed. However, a few days after I killed Ian, I completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which indicated that I was not in a major depression. I was delusional and functioning at an intellectual level beyond normal. It was like Paxil shot me out of my depression into a totally irrational state of thinking - calm, organized, but irrational.
The evidence that I was not in a major depression when I killed my son was not presented as part of my criminal defense at my trial in September 2005. It probably would have been confusing to the Judge. Pharmaceutical companies have not been effective at educating the public about the rare, but potentially lethal side-effects of SSRIs. Even though, for example, psychosis and delusions are listed as rare side-effects of Paxil in the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS); a prescription drug guide published by the Canadian Pharmacists Association for doctors. Sadly and disturbingly, evidence suggests that I am one of those rare individuals.
DNA test results from a study conducted by an Australian forensic scientist/psychiatrist in 2009 also indicate that I experienced Paxil-induced psychosis.
It’s important for anyone who thinks they should have noticed something just before a loved one on a SSRI committed suicide or homicide to understand how difficult that is. We can’t prevent what we can’t predict. When I was severely psychotic, I was perceived as functioning normal. My wife thought that I was recovering from my depression. But many of my thoughts were totally irrational. I thought killing Ian was the right thing to do. If someone had asked me if I was thinking about harming myself or someone else, I would have said “yes”. I didn't think there was anything wrong with the way that I was thinking. But who would have thought to ask. We need to start asking.