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Doctor denies SSRI pills’ link to young mum’s death

PUBLISHED: 09:58 15 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:19 29 July 2015

A young mum who was found hanging had been taking SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) anti-depressants, which have been linked with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, an inquest heard.

Yuri Ito was found by her partner Akio Fukushima in the bathroom in their home in Dalston Lane on December 10 when he returned from work, after becoming concerned she was not answering his phone calls.

Ms Ito, a 29-year-old Japan-born photographer who ran a café in Hertford Road, had been to A&E six weeks earlier on October 30 suffering from anxiety.

The Homerton hospital psychiatrist believed the young mother, who was having difficultly adapting to life in the UK, was reacting to stress, and they agreed to proceed with SSRI antidepressant medication.

Some studies have shown that SSRIs may increase suicidal ideas in some patients, and many SSRIs carry black box warnings about the potential for increased suicide risk when starting the drugs.

Ms Ito next saw Dr Gary Marlow at the De Beauvoir Surgery in Hertford Road on November 11 after suffering severe panic attacks.

In a statement read out at Poplar Coroner’s Court, Dr Marlow said: “She was fearful of everything with no reason, she couldn’t get out of bed for the last two weeks.”

He “pushed up the dose” of the SSRI pill sertraline, and also prescribed Zopiclone to help her sleep.

She returned to see him on December 8, two days before her death, because she had run out sleeping tablets.

“She said she felt better and she could get out of bed, and take her daughter to school,” said Dr Marlow.

“It was a terrible shock and with a sad heart I found of her death.

“There were no obvious suggestions she had any suicidal thoughts. She has a three-year-old daughter and she was concerned for her and that she couldn’t care for her – I took this as a strong protective factor against any suicidal thoughts.”

He continued: “There have been suggestions that SSRIs may aggravate suicidal ideation, I don’t believe this to be the case here, it tends to be in children and adolescents.”

Coroner William Dolman said there was no evidence Ms Ito had deliberately intended to take her life and returned an open verdict.

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