Coroner’s concerns over anti-depressant

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By Staff Reporter

A CORONER has voiced concerns over an anti-depressant drug a retired lorry driver was prescribed before he died.

David Osborne, North East Coroner, said at least six fatalities he has investigated since Christmas had started taking Citalopram soon before their deaths.

Mr Osborne was speaking at the inquest of Langwathby man John Rudd who was killed after being hit by a train in January.

Mr Rudd, 62, was discovered at 11.30pm on January 20 lying beside the railway line a mile north of Southwaite.

A passing train driver of a freight train travelling from Warrington to Carlisle alerted British Transport Police.

At an inquest in Carlisle Mr Osborne heard that Mr Rudd had taken his wife to the supermarket in Penrith before visiting his sister and stepfather near Southwaite earlier that day.

Each relative told the inquest that Mr Rudd seemed in good health that day as he had been given new painkillers from his GP for his arthritis days earlier.

Mr Rudd was forced to retired from driving in 2004 because of the pain.

However none of the relatives were aware that Mr Rudd had also been prescribed the anti-depressants at the same GP appointment on January 17.

His wife of 30 years, Elizabeth, said she had no indication he was considering suicide or that he was unhappy.

She told the inquest his new painkillers were working so well that he drove her to the supermarket that day. His stepfather John Barras was the last of his family to see him alive.

He said: “We just talked fairly normally. When I thought about it afterwards he definitely wasn’t down.”

Mr Rudd left his stepfather’s house at around 5pm after dark to go to the railway line – a place he used to play as a child.

Mr Osborne recorded an open verdict on Mr Rudd’s death.

He said: “We have no evidence of intent [to commit suicide so I think the proper course of action for me in this case is to record an open verdict.”

However he noted that several of his investigations have involved victims prescribed the same drug. He said: “In most cases the people had been prescribed that medication for a short period of time – days or weeks – and then they took their own life usually totally out of the blue.

“I’m not saying that is what caused the death of Mr Rudd but I think it is a factor that needs to be borne in mind.”

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