Wednesday, March 02, 2011
New Zealand Prozac Case File – The Loss – Part II of IV
Previously… Part I – Toran
You ever lost your wallet or purse on a bus or maybe even purchased a gift of high value only to have it stolen?
You ever been devastated at the break up of a long term relationship, in pain at seeing your once long term partner in the arms of someone else?
You ever witnessed your child hanging from a makeshift noose, their life sucked from them, their eyes bulging, their skin clammy to the touch?
Maria Bradshaw has a story to tell. It is one of complete devastation. It’s not about losing her purse. It’s not about having a fashionable High Street gift stolen either. It’s not about losing her partner to another woman.
In Part One I highlighted Maria Bradshaw’s son, Toran, and his demise at the hands of the New Zealand mental health and educational system. Part II is going to pull at the heart strings of many of you that read it. It’s going to put you in the picture, so to speak, and it is going to leave you wondering how any parent can continue to battle on in their quest for justice when their hearts are heavy yet empty as they plod through life seeking answers to why a child of theirs would take a garden hose, fashion a noose, wrap it around their neck and hang themselves.
As a parent myself I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare of finding one of my children dead. Children should not die before their parents, no parent should have to bury their child.
There is no doubt in my mind that Toran Henry killed himself because he was on a drug that can cause suicidal thoughts, a drug that is marketed to help those that take it feel better. A drug that was [and still is] pimped around by Eli Lilly reps who told [and continue to tell] doctors, nurses, psychiatrists that it is safe and effective. Lilly knew it wasn’t. By anyone’s standards that’s fraud and murder with intent.
If you are a parent and you have a child/teenager who has been diagnosed with the many illnesses created by psychiatry then you will have a cure at your fingertips. First, learn of the illness your child has been diagnosed with then ask yourself why this ‘illness’ has just suddenly appeared out of nowhere. ADHD, OCD, ADD are just a few of the labels the psychiatry profession has come up with. These labels are all treatable with mind-bending psychiatric drugs, drugs that have had clinical trials, the results of those clinical trials being passed on to the medicines regulator of your particular country. Here’s what you don’t know – The Pharmaceutical industry use a loophole whereby they only pass on the positive results of clinical trials, the negative results, such as addiction, suicide ideation, self harm and homicidal thoughts are buried… much like those that have fallen foul to an industries suppression of negative data designed to make lots of money at the expense of human life.
Maria Bradshaw is a mother in search of answers. Here she speaks candidly to me about the death of her 17 year old son, Toran Henry.
Part II – The Loss – By Maria Bradshaw
The 20th March started like any other day with the exception that it was the last day of work before the Easter Break. Toran was still asleep when I went into his room to say goodbye before leaving for work. I sat on the end of his bed and we talked about our plans for Easter and about his much loved cat, Ellie, who had gone missing the week before. He was relaxed and happy and looking forward to the holiday. I had no idea this would be the last time I would see him alive.
It was a quiet day at work with most of the staff having taken the day off and only myself and my PA in the office. At around 1pm, my phone rang. It was Louise Gibson, Toran’s case worker at the child and adolescent mental health outpatient unit. Louise started the conversation by saying “Maria, I’ve really stuffed up.” She told me she had made a routine call to Toran and had really upset him. She said he was saying he never wanted to see her again and wanted another therapist. When I asked what had happened she said that when she called Toran he seemed very relaxed and “chatty.” She asked him how things had been going and he told her that the day before, he had been involved in a fight with another boy at school and that he intended to retaliate against the boy who had punched him in the face and given him a black eye.
I had no idea at the time but later learned that Louise had only graduated from University the month before she was appointed as Toran’s case worker. Toran’s was the first case in which she had held this position and was seen as a training opportunity for her. Rather than connecting with Toran’s pain and humilation, she immediately told him that she would need to breach his confidentiality and inform his mother and possibly the police that he had made a threat against another person. Expecting sympathy and support Toran had been horrified that he was facing what he perceived to be judgement and censure. On Toran’s medical file, Louise reported that he had told her “I turned to you for help and you broke my trust. Now I have nowhere to turn.”
On the phone Louise told me that Toran was at home with his friend Keisha who was living with us at the time. She said Toran had told her that he and Keisha had had 2-3 beers. I told Louise that I would call him and make sure he was okay and that she should not make further contact with him but let me deal with the situation. She asked me to delay calling him for five minutes while she talked to him and tried to repair the relationship and let him know that she had called me. I reluctantly agreed.
As soon as I put the phone down however, my PA came into my office and told me Toran was on the phone. She said he was very distressed and that he had asked the PA not to put any calls from Louise through to me. Toran hadn’t told me about the fight the day before as he knew I would be upset about him being involved in any kind of violence. He would not have wanted Louise to tell me this or that he was drinking – something that would have also upset and concerned me.
Toran told me about the phone call with Louise and about the fight the day before. He said that he wanted to retaliate against the boy involved. I understood immediately that actually Toran did not want to fight this boy but that having had 100 kids witness the fight, and him being beaten by a younger boy he felt he had to retaliate to restore his pride.
I calmly told him that I understood his feelings but suggested that as we were planning an overseas trip it wouldn’t be smart to have a pending court case or conviction for assault as this would stop him leaving the country. In doing this, I allowed Toran to give up the notion of retaliation without losing face. No one would accuse him of being too scared to fight the boy if he explained that a fight wasn’t worth losing a holiday in Croatia for. I heard him tell Keisha he was not going to fight this boy cos it meant he couldn’t go on holiday and Keisha laugh and say “I’d give up my pride for a holiday in Croatia too.” Toran immediately relaxed and said he wouldn’t carry out any plans to find and fight the other boy.
I told Toran I was going to leave work and come home and when he asked why I said “Cos it sounds like you need a mother hug.” He laughed and agreed he did. He asked me if I would take him to the mental health clinic so he could tell them how useless they were and that he hated them and wouldn’t be going back. I said I would if he wanted me to but that I didn’t think yelling at them when he was upset was particularly productive. He said he understood that and that he was just not going to have anything to do with them or their drugs any more.
Toran then got a text message and said not to bother coming home because he and his friend were going to another friends home for the afternoon. I asked him what he was planning to do at his friends place and he said his friend had a motorbike and they might ride that. Knowing he had been drinking, I asked him if he thought it was a good idea to ride a motorbike when he was upset and impulsive. Toran had attended the funeral of a friends brother who had died in a motorbike crash two months previously and told me “you’re right. The motorbike killed Patrick. I won’t go near the motorbike.”
We talked about a barbeque we were planning for that evening and I said I’d like him and Keisha home by 6pm so they could help me get the barbeque started and cook the food. He promised they’d be home by then.
I got off the phone but had a strong sense I should go home and see Toran. I called him back and asked if he would wait at home til I got there and go to his friend’s afterwards. He said his friend was on his way and that as it would take me 15-20 minutes to get home he would have left by then. I said I hoped he had a good time at his friends and that I would see him at 6. I said “Love you” and he said “love you too.” Those were the last words we ever spoke to each other.
At around 3.45 I got a phone call from Louise Gibson’s superviser, Tracy Reid. Tracy said that Louise had told her what happened with Toran and that she would like to call Toran to check he was ok. I knew Toran didn’t have his phone with him so gave her Keisha’s mobile number. A few minutes later she called me and said that Keisha had told her that Toran had been behaving strangely – yelling and throwing things at his two friends – and had gone home by himself.
For the first time that day I felt fear. Spending time with his friends was Toran’s favourite activity. For him to abuse them and then leave them was completely out of character. Toran is an only child. His friends had always spent lots of time at our house and some had lived with us for periods of time. Toran’s relationships with the boys he was with that day were in the nature of sibling relationships. They would often hug each other and frequently say “Love you bro” when they were together. I had never known him to be angry with Jake and Keisha.
Concerned that Toran had decided to find the boy he had had the fight with or that he might do something else to bring himself to the attention of the police, I told Tracy I was going home immediately and quickly hung up the phone.
I left my desk without even switching off my computer and got into my car. As I was driving the 15 minutes home, I reminded myself that Prozac made Toran aggressive and impulsive and that I should deal calmly and supportively with any crisis that I might find on my return home. I felt relieved that he had decided not to return to mental health services and to stop taking Prozac, thinking this was the beginning of a brighter, happier time for him and for our family without the terrible side effects of the drug and the unhelpful and often harmful interventions of psychiatrists.
As I got closer to home, I found myself thinking “please let him be home, please let him be home” over and over. I knew that if I could get to him before he did anything silly I could dissuade him from his planned course of action as I had done a couple of hours earlier on the telephone. Mentally I ran through the names of his friends whose numbers I had in my phone – people I could call to help me find him if he wasn’t home. Suicide never entered my mind. When Toran was asked by psychiatrists if he had suicidal thoughts he would say that of course he thought of it from time to time but that he would never kill himself. He would say “I don’t want to die, I just want to be happy.” I had heard him say that many, many times.
I turned into my driveway and saw the garage door wide open, my son was hanging from the frame. He had fashioned a noose from a garden hose. My car door flung open, I ran and grabbed at his body. I tried desperately to lift him, all the time screaming for help.
I tried raising his body to free the noose from his neck but Toran was too heavy. His neck came crashing down on the noose again as the strength in my body left me. I screamed and once again called for help. Soon after a neighbour came running over. He tried to resuscitate Toran…but it was too late.
Next thing I remember was the emergency services enveloping the driveway.
They worked on him for a long time. They performed CPR and injected him with adrenaline. I stood in the driveway begging them “Make my baby alive, please make my baby alive” over and over again. I had a sense of complete unreality and of being removed from the scene. I remember looking at myself and wondering if I was behaving correctly for a mother in this situation or if I should be doing something different. Nothing in my life had prepared me for this and I had no idea how to be.
After a while a junior ambulance officer came to me. She told me that the senior officer was responsible for making the call as to when attempts to revive Toran should stop. She said they would keep going for another couple of minutes but that he would ‘call it’ soon. She said there was no electrical activity in Toran’s brain and that in the unlikely event they were able to bring him back he would be brain dead and ‘a vegetable.’ While there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted him alive no matter what his condition, an image of him his friends seeing him dribbling and incontinent flashed into my mind along with my certain knowledge of how much he would hate that.
Minutes later the senior ambulance officer walked towards me. Knowing what he was going to say and being unable to bear hearing it, I put my hands over my ears and began to shake my head and scream “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” He gently removed my hands and told me Toran was dead.
I went to the garage where he was lying and sat beside him. The ambulance officers stepped back and gave me space to be with him. A neighbour who was a nurse and who had helped with the CPR sat on the other side of him. I looked at my child lying dead beside me and then looked at her and asked “Am I still his mother?” Being Toran’s mother is the most wonderful and important thing that I have ever done. I have always and will always be proud and honoured to be his mother and I needed to know that in losing him, I had not lost that too. She looked at me and told me I will always be his mother. She told me I could touch him and hold his hand but I couldn’t bear to feel the coldness of his skin and to have him not respond to my hug. The nurse rubbed his hand between hers to warm him up and I reluctantly took his hand. My son looked neither beautiful nor peaceful in death and I had no desire to hold or speak to this body that in no way resembled my handsome, vibrant child.
By this time the police had arrived as had the funeral director and hearse. I was told they were taking Toran to the morgue. Deeply in shock all I could think was that Toran had been through a terrible, traumatic event and that he needed to remain safe at home with his mum. There was no way I was going to let them take him anywhere. Prozac had made Toran very anxious and he had told me that leaving the area where we lived to go into the city made him very anxious and afraid. I explained to the police that he was afraid to go into the city so it wasn’t possible for them to take him to the hospital.
The police, unsure what to do, called the duty coroner who asked to speak to me on the phone. He explained to me that Toran had one last story to tell the world – the story of what had happened to him – and that the pathologist was the only person he could tell that story to. This made sense to me. I knew Toran would want to let people know that Prozac had killed him and to finally be listened to. The funeral directors asked me what they could do to lessen Toran’s anxiety about travelling to the city and promised to talk to him constantly and to play the hip-hop music he loved as they drove him over the harbour bridge and to the hospital. Their kindness and compassion and desire to help and support Toran and I meant I felt confident about entrusting them with his care and I agreed that he could go.
I went to the garage and sat with him. I told him what the Coroner had said and asked him to tell the pathologist everything he could. I told him I would see him tomorrow after he had seen the pathologist.
No more than 5 minutes after they had taken Toran away, the police told me that a young woman was on the phone and named Toran’s beautiful 15 year old girlfriend. They asked if I wanted to speak to her. I took the phone and she asked “Maria, what’s happening? Why did the police answer the phone?” After ensuring she had adult support with her, I did one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and told her Toran was dead and that he had committed suicide.
The next hour and a quarter was taken up with the police interviewing me and taking a statement. During that time and for the rest of the night, Toran’s friends began arriving. In groups of two or three they would walk up the driveway, most of them furiously angry. They had received a text message saying Toran was dead which they believed was a cruel hoax. I watched as their anger dissolved into raw grief and shock when they saw the police and my tear ravaged and shocked face.
The next few hours are a blur. More and more children arrived until our house and the deck outside were crowded with barely room to move. Trying desperately to find an explanation for what was happening around me that did not include Toran being dead, I am told I tried to comfort myself and Toran’s friends by explaining that people who died at Easter came back to life on Sunday and speculating on whether Toran dying on Thursday, a day before Jesus, meant he would come back on Saturday or whether Sunday was the appointed day regardless of the day of the death.
An event at 9pm that night however stands out in my memory. The phone rang and someone answered it and handed it to me. A voice said “Hi Maria, this is Virginia from the Crisis Team. I understand from Louise that you had a bit of a rough day with Toran and I’m just calling to see how things are now.” I took a deep breath and replied “My son committed suicide 5 hours ago.” The woman at the other end of the phone clearly shocked said “Oh my god, oh my god, I’m so sorry is there anything I can do?” I said “Yes, there is. You can stop fucking killing our kids.” Then I calmly disconnected the call and gently put down the phone.
For the five days before his funeral, Toran’s friends and I sat vigil beside his coffin. With the assistance of the antidepressants, benzodiazepines and tranquillisers I had been prescribed I made a number of medically serious suicide attempts. Just as a mother would not hesitate to follow her child if she lost sight of him in a dark forest or crowded mall, I could not imagine not following him to wherever he had gone. While the girls wrote him endless letters until his coffin overflowed with their words of love and grief, I learned later that the boys, concerned he did not know anyone in Heaven, drew straws to decide who would drive their car into a median barrier and go with him. Fortunately, they decided not to carry out this plan.
These are some of the things I have learned from others about what happened that day. Toran’s moods were rapidly cycling. From being happy in the morning to being angry and distressed over the phone call, he was calm again when I spoke to him but then angry and aggressive to his friends very soon afterwards. They tell me he seemed to think they were laughing at him and didn’t care about him. Five minutes after he left them, he ran into an acquaintance as he was walking home. This boy says Toran was relaxed and happy but noticed that despite having had very little to drink, he was staggering. Abnormal gait is a listed side effect of Prozac. On arriving home Toran did the following things although it difficult to know in what order.
He lay on his bed for a period of time, he had a shower and did his hair (something he would usually only do in the middle of the day if he was meeting his girlfriend), he punched a hole in the door to the spare room and took a knife out of the kitchen which he put on the table. He called one of his best friends and said he was going to stab him. He left an angry and abusive message on his girlfriends phone. And then of course he went downstairs, made the garden hose into a noose and hanged himself.
Maria Bradshaw -Toran’s mom.
Coming Soon: Part III – The Inquest, The Suppression Revealed.
It is hoped that by telling Maria’s story that other parents will come to realise the dangers of SSRi type medication.