Depressed man took his own life

A FAMILY has called for a full investigation into the effects of an anti-depressant after a Linslade man stabbed himself to death.

Colm MacMahon, 40, was found dead in the kitchen of his home in The Gables, just a day after being prescribed escitalopram by his GP.

At an inquest on Tuesday the victim's wife, Anne Thornton, and his brother Bryan, from Dublin, said more research was needed after revealing that a possible side effect of the drug was self harm, particularly through cutting.

Websites describing the drug also warn that patients should be closely monitored for worsening depression and suicidal tendencies when first taking escitalopram.

Ms Thornton told the inquest that her husband had been well until about four days before his death. She said he began to suffer from depression, paranoia and anxiety after learning that his job might be transferred to York.

The inquiry heard that he was also concerned that private material on his work computer would be uncovered by his employers.

On July 6 Mr MacMahon and his wife went to see their GP where he was prescribed an anti-depressant.

The next day Ms Thornton went to work leaving her husband at home. She tried unsuccessfully to contact him throughout the day and returned home to find his body. A long-bladed kitchen knife was found close to Mr MacMahon.

Police initially started a murder inquiry until a post mortem found that the wounds to his chest and abdomen were self inflicted.

The victim's brother, who submitted a letter to the court highlighting the family's fears, said: "We are concerned. We have reason to question whether the drug he was prescribed had affected his thinking.

"The tragedy was compounded by his rapid deterioration. The idea of self harm would have been abhorrent to him."

In a report to the court the couple's GP said that he hadn't considered Mr MacMahon a suicide risk when he examined him.

Ms Thornton said: "I feel the medical angle needs to be looked at." She said that research had revealed that patients needed to be watched and there had been cases of them cutting themselves.

Coroner David Morris decided to adjourn the case to allow a top toxicologist to investigate the family's concerns.

He said there was no doubt that Mr MacMahon had killed himself but the reasons why needed to be pursued.

Talking to the family he said it was an unusual way to commit suicide. "If it's a matter that you feel strongly about and that it might have affected his mind I will have to send a copy of your letter to the consultant toxicologist."