From Patient to Prisoner
By Kurt M. Danysh
My name is Kurt Danysh. In 1996, at the age of 18, I shot & killed my father, while experiencing a violent reaction to Prozac. www.kurtdanysh.com
I have no memory of pulling out the gun or firing it, only the sound of the shot & the scene before me. It felt
As though I was observing myself from above & to the right. Like a mantra, I kept repeating “Oh my God,
What have I done?...Oh my God, what have I done?...Oh my God, what have I done?”
Although confused about what had occurred, I was not emotionally connected to it. Instead, my only thought was to speak with my girlfriend’s mother, whom had become a surrogate mother to me.
After explaining to her what had occurred, she asked me what I was going to do. My answer surprised even me, I was going to shoot myself. It wasn’t a plan or something I had thought about since the shooting. It was just an idea that was already “there.” Again, I had no emotional attachment to it. I could have ended my life as effortlessly as turning off a light switch.
In the end, my girlfriend’s mother saved my life by convincing me to instead tell the police what had occurred. Until that point, I had not even considered the fact that what occurred was “illegal.” It never dawned on me.
In my confession to authorities, I did not attribute my actions to Prozac (I didn’t yet know that Prozac was capable of causing violence), but when asked to describe my behavior leading up to the offense, I explained:
“I’ve been different…I was on Prozac…And it’s supposed to calm me down & level me out, but since I got on it, when something bothers me, it bothers me to extreme, but not for a long period of time. And even normally, I just act differently. I don’t have the energy or personality I used to. I spend half the time, like in a trance.
This might sound weird, but it felt like something else, like I had no control what I was doing, like I was left there just holding the gun. It felt like someone else shot him.
Following my arrest, witnesses confirmed that there was a “major change” in my behavior & mood while taking Prozac, which they described as “violent, unusual & really strange.”
Nonetheless, based upon an assurance from Eli Lilly & Company (“Lilly”), the makers of Prozac, that Prozac “would not cause aggressive behavior” and its offer to provide the state with expert witnesses for trial purposes, I was charged with capital murder, thereby, qualifying me for the death penalty.
In jail, I was evaluated by a psychologist, who concluded that “nothing in his past or in his psychological profile suggests why he would [commit] murder, especially his own father…nothing in my assessment explains why he committed this murder.”
On the advice of my court appointed attorney, who assured me that there was no evidence linking Prozac to violence, I pleaded guilty to third degree murder and was sentenced to serve 22 ½ to 60 years in prison.
Since that time, it has been revealed that Lilly knowingly lied to investigators in 1996 when it denied that Prozac could cause violent behavior.
Lilly has known since the 80’s that Prozac is capable of causing violent behavior, to include homicidality, in some patients. Nonetheless, since 1991, Lilly has conspired with prosecutors to convict criminal defendants who raise the so-called “Prozac Defense.” (1) These efforts include providing expert witnesses at trial (to combat claims that the drug caused the defendants’s violent offense(s) and even financing entire prosecutions. (2)
Other antidepressant manufacturers have followed Lilly’s lead. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, went as far as creating a “Zoloft Litigation Manual”, which it prepared “in anticipation of litigation to assist Pfizer’s lawyers, and lawyers in prosecutor’s offices with common interests, in responding to civil claim or criminal defense” claiming that Zoloft induced violent behavior. (3)
20 YEARS LATER-Undeniable Link to Violence
Today, 20 years after the fact, there is no denying that antidepressants cause violent behavior.
Since 2005, antidepressant manufacturers themselves include language on their product labels, warning patients to call 911 immediately if they begin “acting aggressive, being angry or violent, [and/or] acting on dangerous impulses.” (4)
No less than 15 courts of law have attributed homicidal behavior to a defendant’s use of antidepressants. In these cases, the defendants were either outright acquitted of the criminal charges or granted lenient sentences (to include probation for murder) based upon evidence linking antidepressants to homicide
A 2010 study identified, from FDA data, SSRI antidepressants as the most “strongly and consistently” implicated class of drugs associated with “homicide, physical assault, physical abuse, homicide ideation, or violence-related syndrome” (5)
Canada and China’s regulartory agencies have explicitly recognized that antidepressants cause cause “harm to others”(6) and “hostility” (7) respectively.
Validation…..Better Late Than Never….
So irrefutable is the evidence against antidepressants that my prosecutor now concedes that Prozac could have played a role in my offense.
In a 2014 letter endorsing a reduction of my sentence, my prosecutor wrote that:
“My review of the record in this matter over the past several years, coupled with increased media reporting and scientific data, have convinced me of one thing..there is the potential that the use of Prozac played a role in your homicidal act…This potential fact creates something that could have been considered as a mitigation at the time of your sentence..and it was not as the Court did not have that information available to it.
Dr David Healy, who was prepared to testify in support of reduction of my sentence, has additionally concluded that:
“This case is about as simple and straightforward as it gets, and bears all the hallmarks of a treatment induced problem…I believe there is a strong case to be made, but for the Prozac he took, Mr Danysh would not have killed his father (Emphasis added)
Unfortunately, despite my prosecutor’s endorsement, my judge has determined that he lacks legal authority to reduce my sentence.
EFFORTS TO S.A.V.EOTHERS
Knowing that the effects of Prozac caused me to kill my father, does nothing to lessen the guilt, remorse, and memories that I experience each and every day.
But it does inspire me to devote my life to preventing future tragedy.
Fact: There are men, women & children in prison (some serving life sentences) for offenses caused by legally prescribed antidepressants.
I know this because I have received hundreds of letters from them. I know this because I am one of them.
In 2005, I started the “STOP ANTIDEPRESSANT VIOLENCE FROM ESCALATING (S.A.V.E ) Project as a means to share information regarding antidepressant-induced homicide.
Since that time, I have received hundreds of letters from individuals who believe that they are incarcerated for crimes caused by antidepressants.
I’ve also been approached by attorneys from as far away as South Africa, who are representing defendants, they believe to be innocent, based upon antidepressant intoxication. These attorneys express both gratitude and shock upon being provided with evidence linking such widely prescribed “legal” drugs to violent and homicidal behavior.
BIGGER THAN ME
It is impossible to repair the harm caused by Prozac, in my case (the loss of my father, the devastation inflicted upon my family and the unrelenting guilt I will forever live with.) But I can use my experience and knowledge to prevent future tragedy.
Through The S.A.V.E Project, I am writing a book about the phenomena of antidepressant-induced homicide, which exposes the deadly effects of these drugs and Big Pharma’s efforts to conceal the risks.
Prison walls may restrain my body, but they cannot restrain my voice or soul.
It is encouraging to know that people at www.thepillthatsteals.com know the truth about these drugs, and are raising awareness about this consequential issue.
Kurt M. Danysh