Magnotta complained of hearing voices, being stalked, doctor testifies — (The Globe and Mail)

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The Globe and Mail

Sidhartha Banerjee

Robin Williams — Suicide Triggered by Depression, Parkinson’s, Paranoia — (

By Caroline Graham for Mail On Sunday

A close friend of Robin Williams has blamed the drugs the comedian was taking to combat Parkinson’s disease for his suicide.

Actor Rob Schneider tweeted: ‘Now that we can talk about it #Robin Williams was on a drug treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s. One of the side effects is suicide.’

Schneider, 50, met Williams more than two decades ago when they appeared on the US TV show, Saturday Night Live. They remained close friends and often performed together in stand-up comedy clubs.

Williams’s spokeswoman declined to comment when asked by The Mail on Sunday about rumours that the tragic comic’s family blames the medication he was on for ‘pushing him over the edge’.

A source said: ‘Robin had recently left rehab. He was on medication for anxiety and depression and had also started taking drugs to combat the early onset of Parkinson’s.

‘Many of these drugs list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect. A lot of Robin’s friends are convinced that the cocktail of prescription pills he was on somehow contributed to his mental state deteriorating as quickly as it did.

‘Robin had always suffered from depression and addiction but the diagnosis and treatment of his Parkinson’s was new, as was the combination of drugs he was on.’

Williams, 63, was last photographed at an art show near his home in Tiburon, northern California, last Saturday night. He appeared frail and thin.

He took his life last Sunday as his third wife Susan Schneider (who is not related to Rob Schneider) slept in the next room. The pair are thought to have been sleeping in separate rooms because Williams was suffering from insomnia brought on by the drugs he was taking.

Williams’s body was found on Monday morning by his personal assistant. Results of toxicology tests are expected to take six weeks.

Experts say Parkinson’s disease can make symptoms of depression worse.  America’s National Institute of Mental Health says on its website that people struggling with depression and Parkinson’s ‘suffer higher levels of anxiety and more problems with concentration’ than those suffering from only one of the ailments.

Dr Jeff Bronstein, neurologist specialising in Parkinson’s, said: ‘Obviously getting the diagnosis can make people depressed but we also know there is a much higher incidence of depression even before the disease is recognised. We think it’s one of the early symptoms.’

The funeral of the star of Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire could take place as early as this weekend.

A source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The funeral will be private and small for family and very close friends only. There will be larger memorials in Los Angeles and New York at a later date.’

Williams was involved in raising money for Parkinson’s research through his friend Michael J. Fox’s foundation before he was diagnosed with the disease.

Back To The Future star Fox tweeted: ‘Stunned to learn Robin had PD. A true friend. I wish him peace.’

Actress Lynsey Pow found hanged after battles with cocaine and gambling debts — (London Evening Standard)

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London Evening Standard

An actress who appeared in BBC dramas Waterloo Road and Doctors took her own life after battling drug and gambling problems, an inquest heard.

Lynsey Pow, 34, who also appeared alongside Billie Piper in Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, was found dead at her flat in Honor Oak Park on November 28 last year.

An inquest at Southwark coroner’s court heard yesterday how her husband Ashley House, a Eurosport TV presenter, rushed back home from work after growing concerned about her welfare.

The inquest heard Ms Pow told her husband by phone that she was sorry for her online gambling and that she had bought some cocaine.

She was found hanging, with drugs paraphernalia and open bank statements showing gambling debts nearby. A post-mortem examination found traces of cocaine and alcohol in her body.

Her father, James Pow, had tried to take her to his home in Scotland a month before she died so she could get help with her drug habit.

Revealing a bitter family rift, a statement from Mr Pow read to the court said: “I sought to separate my daughter from her husband after he failed to fulfil his marriage vows to act as a custodian and guardian.”

Dr Johan Hugo, a GP who met Ms Pow on October 13, said she told him that she “felt like a failure” and was using cocaine on a daily basis and had tried to self-harm.

Ms Pow was prescribed anti-depressants and referred for psychiatric treatment. When she met Dr Hugo on October 30 she told him she was off drugs and seemed like a “different person”, eager to get back to her life in London and work commitments.

Her brother, actor Duncan Pow, told the inquest that his sister had twice previously tried to take her life. On October 16, he and his younger sister, Kathryn, found her in a “catatonic” state. The inquest also heard how Ms Pow left a note before her death.

Assistant Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe recorded a narrative verdict, saying the presence of drugs in Ms Pow’s system meant it could not be proven she intended to kill herself.

She said: “[Ms Pow] appeared to have obtained some cocaine and while under the influence of cocaine she appeared to hang herself.

“It is likely to have influenced her mind so it cannot be said that she intended to die. I am recording this as a drug-related self-harm death.”

Ms Pow’s father said he was pleased the coroner did not record a suicide verdict as he blamed his daughter’s death on her relapse into drugs.

Mr Pow, owner of the Country Attire clothing company, told the Standard: “She was getting better. The tragedy is that she could have been saved. We did everything we could when we found out about the drugs. Lynsey touched so many lives. There were 1,400 people at her memorial service. The only thing that has helped is that it has brought our family even closer together.”

Mr House declined to speak at the inquest and declined to comment when approached by the Standard.

Farmingdale mom was beheaded by disturbed son two days before meeting with psychiatrist to obtain his medications — (New York Daily News)

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By Nancy Dillon , Ginger Adams Otis

Published: Thursday, October 30, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Pat Ward, 66, had arranged an appointment on Friday with a psychiatrist to get medications for her 35-year-old son, Derek. ‘He killed my sister because we couldn’t get the prescriptions he needed. For four days, he didn’t have his meds,’ the Rev. Robert Lubrano told the Daily News. Derek Ward had become increasingly unstable in the days before the attack, Lubrano said.

She was just two days away from getting her psychotic son the medication that might have saved her life.

Pat Ward, 66, decapitated in her Farmingdale, L.I., apartment by her mentally ill son, had arranged a Friday appointment with a psychiatrist to get him back on his meds, the Daily News has learned.

Derek Ward, 35, who butchered his mother Tuesday night before taking his own life by jumping in front of a train, was a “sick, sick kid,” according to his uncle.

“He killed my sister because we couldn’t get the prescriptions he needed. For four days, he didn’t have his meds,” said the Rev. Robert Lubrano.

“She’s dead because he had a mental illness, and we didn’t know how serious it was. We’re in terrible shock. She was a wonderful person.”

Lubrano, also of Farmingdale, described his sister as a gentle, loving mother who tried valiantly to care for her family.

Derek Ward had battled psychiatric problems for the past decade, but he had never been violent, Lubrano said.

“He never raised his hand to her before this. Never had a gun. This is all about mental illness and the difficulty of getting a psychiatrist,” he said.

After Derek Ward killed his mother and cut off her head, he sat with her headless corpse for several minutes inside their gore-spattered apartment, cops said.

Then he dragged her mutilated remains down the stairs to the street. He left her corpse there and walked to the nearby Long Island Rail Road station and committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train.

“She had an appointment set up for (Friday). She finally met a compassionate psychiatrist, but she’ll never make it to see him,” Lubrano sobbed.

Derek Ward was too old to be covered by his mother’s insurance, and they struggled to find a doctor who would accept Medicaid.

Lubrano said he only found out his nephew had been off his meds when it was too late.

“(My sister) was paying $200 for a 20-minute visit. She did everything to keep Derek alive,” he said.

In the days before the horrific attack, Derek Ward grew increasingly unstable, he said. By Monday night, the family was urging the mother to call police.

“(Pat) dropped a fork Monday while making dinner, and he got mad at her. He said the noise hurt his head. She was begging him to go to the emergency room, but he wouldn’t,” the brother said.

“We tried to convince her to go to police, but she was terrified of the police. She thought they might hurt him.”

Derek Ward did six weeks in a Long Island psych hospital in August 2013, after his maternal grandfather died, said Lubrano.

He started complaining of hearing voices that same night, the reverend said.

But he’d never lifted a finger against his mother, and nobody considered him a violent threat.

“We never got a real diagnosis. We thought it was schizophrenia or depression,” Lubrano said.

When he couldn’t get his sister on the phone Tuesday night, Lubrano got in his car and drove to their Farmingdale apartment.

As he got closer and saw all the streets blocked off, he told himself there must have been a gas leak nearby. When he saw a police officer, Lubrano said he needed to visit his sister.

“He said, ‘Apt. G?’ I said, ‘How did you know?’ ” Lubrano recounted painfully.

“He said ‘Father, I don’t know how to tell you, but her son killed her.’”

Lubrano was stunned and heartbroken — and unable to believe his nephew had done what they said he did.

“I thought I was in a horror movie. Cut her head off? To do what he did to the woman he loved the most in this world, his mommy? Her whole life, she was there for him. She did the best she could,” he said.

Ward’s other son, Robert Ward, had died of a heroin overdose in 1997. She and her husband, John Ward, 63, were divorced, relatives said.

That left just Ward and Derek to care for each other, according to Lubrano.

“My nephew was not a bad person, (just) a sick person. He had ADD and was dyslexic. She taught him how to read, then he became an avid reader, went back to school,” the grieving uncle cried. “He was a really good kid. Whatever happened after my father died, it broke him.”

A wake for Ward is planned for Monday from 3 to 8 p.m. at McCourt & Trudden funeral home in Farmingdale.

The funeral is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. in St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church on Conklin on Tuesday.

A Year Later, Trying to Comprehend a Young Hockey Player’s Suicide — (New York Times)

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Woman held in sister’s death was also charged in 2001 slaying — (Chicago Tribune)

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Chicago Tribune

October 2, 2014, 7:22 PM

A woman charged with killing her sister in Carpentersville previously stabbed a man to death in an unrelated case, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity, authorities confirmed Thursday..

Sandra Baumgartner was charged with murder in the stabbing death of her 57-year-old sister, Sharon Baumgartner, who was found in her apartment Monday night.

Sandra Baumgartner, 53, was arrested a short while later after police say they found her hiding in a wooded area. Police say the stabbing took place in the victim’s apartment. The sisters lived in different apartments in the same complex on the 100 block of South Lincoln Avenue, according to police.

At Thursday’s bond hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Christine Bayer said Sandra Baumgartner had been charged with murder in Tennessee in 2001, where police say she stabbed a man more than 120 times.

Baumgartner was found not guilty by reason of insanity and after being charged with killing Daniel Morgan in his apartment in a suburb of Memphis. News reports from the time say she met Morgan a few days earlier at a music shop.

After her trial, she was eventually allowed to live with her parents over prosecutors’ objections.

Reached at home Thursday, James Wax, a former prosecutor in Shelby County, Tenn. who handled her case, said he wasn’t surprised she’d been accused of another crime. She should have been institutionalized or more closely monitored in Tennessee, he said.

“She shouldn’t have been let loose,” he said.”Of all the cases I had, and I worked there for 30 years, that was the one (I) worried about.”

“I thought she was dangerous,” he said.

At trial, her defense attorney didn’t dispute that Baumgartner and Morgan had an altercation and she stabbed him repeatedly. Instead, court records show, her attorney said she had schizoaffective disorder and did not understand that her actions were wrong.

She was briefly institutionalized but battled for less restrictive conditions.

Wax said he didn’t buy into the idea that she didn’t understand what she was doing when she stabbed the man. He said the crime scene was “like out of one of those slasher movies.”

“It was one of the grossest crime scenes I’ve ever seen,” he said.

At a hearing on Baumgartner’s treatment in 2002, a psychologist who evaluated her said her symptoms were under control and she didn’t belong in a mental institution. He noted that Baumgartner, who had worked as a registered nurse, had received treatment for some nine years before the killing without incident.

Her medication was inadvertently switched from an antipsychotic medication to an antidepressant, the doctor said, which caused her to mentally deteriorate in the months leading up to the stabbing.

Mental health professionals testified that she was well behaved when correctly medicated, court records show.

Baumgartner herself testified that she was an alcoholic who had been attending AA meetings and felt stable when she was taking the right prescriptions.

Tennessee appeals judges ordered an outpatient treatment plan that allowed her to live with her parents, Robert and Carol Baumgartner, while receiving mental health care.

An online obituary shows that her parents once lived in Elgin and later moved to Memphis, where her mother died 2010.

On Thursday, neither prosecutors nor police offered more details about the circumstances of Sharon Baumgartner’s death.

Kane County Judge John Barsanti appointed the public defender’s office to represent Sandra Baumgartner and set her next court date for Oct. 16.

Hinkel and McCoppin are Tribune staff reporters; Ward is a freelance reporter. Freelance reporter Amanda Marrazzo also contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

Chef died from toxic level of anti-depressants — (The Oxford Times)

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The Oxford Times

A CHEF who died after being found at the bottom of stairs in an Oxford home for people with mental health problems had toxic levels of an anti-depressant in his system.

Sun Hei Lam, 54, was discovered at about 2pm on April 22 by support worker, Robert Atkinson, who had earlier heard a thud at the top of the stairs.

Mr Lam was pronounced dead at about 2.30pm that day from a large upper gastro-intestinal haemorrhage, due to gastritis – an inflammation of the lining of the stomach – and toxic levels of fluoxetine – a drug he was taking.

Coroner Darren Salter heard at Mr Lam’s inquest on Tuesday that pathologist Clare Verrill had concluded his death should be attributed to toxic levels of fluoxetine in his system.

Mr Salter said: “There is evidence that not only could the fluoxetine have been at a toxic level and in a fatal range, but it could have been responsible for the gastritis.

“I think that the best opinion is that this is a drug-related death, not least because of the fluoxetine.”

Suicide ruled in plane crash — (Fredericksburg Free Lance Star)

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Suicide ruled in plane crash

The pilot who died in a crash near Shannon Airport one year ago had been diagnosed with severe depression seven weeks earlier, according to the final report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Edwin G. Hassel, 22, was living in Spotsylvania County and engaged at the time of his death.   The investigation concluded that Hassel intentionally crashed the Cessna 172M he had rented the evening of July 22, 2013.

An autopsy performed by the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma and the manner of death as suicide, the NTSB report states.

Before the crash, Hassel had been diagnosed with “severe recurrent major depression.”  He was prescribed an antidepressant and urged to seek counseling, according to the report.

Toxicology tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City detected an antidepressant in his system.  It also detected ethanol, which is the active agent in alcoholic beverages, according to information from the Mayo Clinic medical laboratory.

The ethanol level detected was below Virginia’s legal limit for impairment.

“The investigation was unable to determine if pre-flight ethanol ingestion played a role in pilot’s decision-making,” the report states.

Hassel went online at 5:54 p.m. that July evening to reserve the Cessna for a flight, the report stated. He showed up at the airport on Tidewater Trail afterward and got the keys after speaking to a flight instructor who said he “seemed to be in good spirits and was not otherwise behaving abnormally.”

However,  Hassel’s fiancée contacted authorities about the same time to say she believed he planned to commit suicide “based on her previous interactions with him and a note she discovered in her home,” the report states.

She arrived at the airport as he was walking to the plane. Deputies soon arrived along with the flight instructor and they witnessed the crash.

Hassel performed a low pass down the runway, then started erratic maneuvers near the airport, then climbed to an estimated altitude of 3,000 feet before placing the plane in a “near-vertical attitude,” the report states.

The plane’s engine sounded like it was at full power prior to impact with the ground about 200 feet northwest of the runway.

The plane burst into flames on impact but fire and rescue personnel were quickly on scene.

Hassel had accumulated about 165 hours of flight experience as of May 2013.

The plane was operated by JLS Aviation Flight School and was not found to have any mechanical problems.

“Although the wreckage was significantly fragmented and fire-damaged, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation were observed,” the report states.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

Schoolgirl, 15, accidentally killed herself after taking anti-depressants and painkillers for ‘fun’ at a bus stop with a friend after skipping lessons — (Daily Mail)

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Daily Mail

Jade Pemberton, 15, accidentally killed herself by taking anti-depressants for ‘fun’

  • Jade Pemberton died after taking the drugs her friend stole from mother
  • The 15-year-old looked ‘pale’ and her lips ‘turned blue’ after overdose
  • She was found dead by her father who thought she’d fallen asleep
  • Nervous system had slowly shut down due to the high amount of drugs
  • Her friend admitted supplying drugs and received an absolute discharge
  • Coroner warns all parents to lock prescriptions away from children
A schoolgirl of 15 accidentally killed herself after she and a classmate swallowed a lethal cocktail of prescription painkilling tablets ‘for fun,’ an inquest heard.

Jade Pemberton took anti-depressants and another prescription drug as she and her friend waited at a bus stop after skipping lessons.

The youngsters then began to feel tired and Jade’s lips ‘turned blue’ as she fell asleep on the bus during the trip home.

She managed to get to the flat where she lived with father David Pemberton in Blackpool, Lancashire, but fell asleep again on the sofa after a brief conversation.

The following morning Mr Pemberton went to wake his daughter but got no response and called an ambulance.

The youngster was pronounced dead at the scene having died in her sleep. Tests showed her nervous system having slowly shut down due to the high amount of drugs in her system.

Inquiries revealed the friend, 15, – who cannot be named for legal reasons – stole prescription  tablets from her mother’s medicine bag where they were kept to treat back pain.

She was was taken to hospital to be checked by medics but was discharged.

She later appeared before a youth court where she admitted supplying drugs.

At an inquest in Blackpool a coroner said the case served as a ‘reminder’ to parents who leave potentially dangerous medication within easy reach of youngsters.

Jade Pemberton, 15, accidentally killed herself by taking anti-depressants for ‘fun’ | Daily Mail Online

The hearing was told Jade was described by her father as a child ‘with her own mind from a very early age’.

She had known her friend from the age of four, but they were said to be ‘bad influences’ on each other.

The tragedy occurred on November 12 2012 after Jade visited a house during the day while her friend waited around a corner and returned with what she described as ‘happy pills’.

Jade Pemberton, 15, accidentally killed herself by taking anti-depressants for ‘fun’ | Daily Mail Online

Both began swallowing the tablets and as the girls waited for a bus the friend said Jade tried to run in front of a vehicle but she pulled her back.

Then during the bus journey around the resort town the friend said Jade fell asleep and when she awoke she was ‘pale’ with ‘blue lips’.

Another teenage friend, who had been in contact with Jade that evening via text, told the hearing the 15-year-old had told her she had ‘taken an overdose’ and felt as if she might ‘pass out’.

Fatal: A post-mortem examination revealed Jade had fatal levels of the drug in her system which slowly shut down her nervous system

Jade made it home at 10.30pm and Mr Pemberton said in a statement: ‘Within five or ten minutes of getting in the house she was asleep.

‘We didn’t have a conversation about where she had been.

‘She was making a snoring noise. It was very loud as if she was wheezy. I tried to wake her up at some point in the early hours. I asked if she was OK and she grunted. ‘I didn’t move the duvet or look at her. I thought she was OK.

‘At some point I fell asleep and was woken by the phone ringing. It was the school family liaison.

‘We had a 10am meeting. He said he was outside the flat so I went to let him in. I went to Jade and tapped her leg and in due course realised she was dead and called an ambulance.’

Police inquiries led to Jade’s friend and she was arrested. In her statement to police the girl, now 17, said: ‘Jade asked me about the (drugs) and I said they were for my mother’s for back pain.

‘She asked if she could have one. I said no but she took one.

‘Before we went to the bus stop Jade went in someone’s house and came back with happy pills. We both had some but Jade had more. I said yes to having them, I didn’t really like saying no to her.

‘While on the bus I woke up and Jade looked pale and had blue lips. She said she was cold. I gave her my jacket to help her to warm up and 20 minutes later she had her colour back.

‘She wasn’t thinking straight and was worried about what might happen taking that many pills. We just took them for fun.’

The hearing was told her friend escaped with an absolute discharge at a local youth court which means she will have no criminal record.

The girl’s mother said all her children knew where her medication was kept as she would ask them to get them for her when needed, but added she now kept them locked away following Jade’s death.

The mother said: ‘I was totally shocked by what happened. I never thought anything would happen.

‘Now they’re locked away.’

Recording a conclusion of death by misadventure, Blackpool coroner Alan Wilson said: ‘This inquest serves as a reminder to adults in terms of taking particular care in where they store medication within the home and a reminder as to what may happen if young people have the opportunity to get access to it.

‘We have heard there was missing tramadol in the mother’s property but how much is less clear. Why Jade took the medication needs to be addressed. It seems she was having difficulties for one reason or another.

‘But I am not in any way sure it was intended by her to take her life and I feel quite comfortable being satisfied to the standard.

‘The definition of misadventure is the unintended consequence of a deliberate act. In my judgement what she hasn’t intended is the consequence and she didn’t intend to die as a result.

‘Jade voluntarily ingested a large quantity of medication. She intended to take the tablets but did not intend to die.’

Lawyer: Mental issues behind hammer attack — (New Britain Herald)

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New Britain Herald

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:23 PM EDT


NEW BRITAIN — A defense attorney is hoping to show his that client was affected by mental health issues when he hit a woman in the head with a hammer nearly a dozen times last July.
Richard Campbell, 43, of no permanent address, is accused of attacking the woman after she told him that he couldn’t stay at her home.

Campbell is on trial for attempted murder and assault. Dr. Andrew Meisler, a psychologist hired by the defense to examine Campbell, testified Tuesday that the homeless man told him he was on anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs at the time of the attack.  Meisler said the medications could have affected Campbell’s behavior.

According to police reports, the woman and her family were celebrating her 40th birthday and she wound up telling Campbell, a longtime family friend, that he could stay the night in her son’s bedroom. But she also told him that he couldn’t stay any longer than that one night, reports said.

The woman told investigators that she and her son went to sleep in her bed and both woke up around 5:30 a.m. the next day, when Campbell struck her in the side of the head with hammer.

He was shouting, “I’m going to kill you,” as he continued to hit her, she said. The woman scramble away and out of the bedroom, but he threw her down the stairs.

The woman and the boy fled and sought help from neighbors. Police arrived, finding the woman suffering from several head wounds and the house splattered with blood from the bedroom to the first floor.

Campbell was spotted and arrested in a small clearing in the area of Winfield and Marwood drives. He said he had awoken to find himself standing over the woman and started to strike her with an object, but he couldn’t recall what.

“Campbell stated that he heard voices that made him do it,” court papers said.   The prosecutor, New Britain State’s Attorney Brian Preleski, reminded Meisler during cross-examination that the psychologist didn’t actually know if Campbell had taken any of the drugs before the attack.

Campbell is being tried before New Britain Superior Court Judge Francis D’Addabbo, who will render the verdict.

Lisa Backus can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 306 or