Antidepressants Alleged To Have Caused Man’s Suicide

I just found this press release about a man who after taking Zoloft for only a short time killed himself unexpectedly. Below are some clips about his suicide and how it related to recent warnings that antidepressants cause suicide.

Russell Johnson, a 54-year-old Nebraska native who spent much of his life in O’Neill, survived cancer surgery two years ago and was talking about retiring, maybe moving to South Dakota.

And then one summer day, without warning, he left the job he’d had for 28 years, went home for lunch and shot himself, according to family members.

Family members knew he’d been depressed, something his ex-wife Bonnie Johnson says stemmed from the aftereffects of prostate surgery.

And they knew he’d started taking the antidepressant Zoloft.

Bonnie Johnson, who remained close with her ex-husband years after they divorced and who is a nurse, said she was familiar with the antidepressant and was concerned Russell had started taking it.

“He didn’t even get through the samples (and start taking the actual prescription) when he committed suicide,� she said.

What the mans family didn’t know until after his father’s death were the looming concerns about the drug’s side effects, concerns it could cause suicidal or violent tendencies.

In antidepressant cases, the hope is drug companies will start warning customers and doctors of the risk of increased suicidal behavior, Brava-Partain (an anti-zoloft attorney) said.

“These drug companies are realizing, I hope, that they can’t hide this information from doctors and the public,’’ Brava-Partain said.

The FDA is studying the issue and in March 2004 required the manufacturers of such antidepressants to issue a “black box’’ warning to pediatric patients, Brava-Partain said. The FDA is studying suicidal tendencies in adult patients who take such drugs and in June issued a public health advisory warning of the possibility of increased suicidal behavior, especially early in treatment.

Robert Brava-Partain, an attorney with the Los Angeles firm Baum Hedlund, said his firm has filed about a dozen Zoloft suicide cases and he knows of about a dozen other Zoloft cases filed by other firms. Baum Hedlund is not involved in Johnson’s case.

Most of the Zoloft cases are being litigated in federal court and are pending, Brava-Partain said.

One of the first Zoloft trials is scheduled to begin in three weeks in Texas, Brava-Partain said. A trial would be significant, he said, in light of the recent jury verdict in a case against Merck and Co. Last week, a Texas jury awarded $253.4 million to the widow of a man who took Vioxx, a drug prescribed to arthritis sufferers.

For more information on Zoloft side effects - visit

Tags: Deaths Caused By Psychiatry, Depression, FDA and Psychiatric Drugs, Side Effects, Victims Of Psychiatry Speak Out, Zoloft

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