Justice With Dignity - Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers

Kimberly Rogers Inquest Alerts

Rogers likely wanted to die: expert
Suicide expert testifies at inquest

by Eli Schuster
Osprey Media Group Inc.
Wednesday, November 20, 2002 - 11:00

Sudbury - Kimberly Rogers most likely ingested 4000 milligrams of Amitripryline, a powerful anti-depressant as a means of killing herself, a world-renowned suicide expert said Tuesday at the inquest into her death.

Dr. Isaac Sakinofsky, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, testified the drug that killed Rogers is “not candy,” but a “very dangerous” cardiotoxic anti-depressant, which in large enough doses can lead to heart attacks and death.

The generally accepted lethal dose for Amitripryline is 15 mg per 20 kg, yet the amount Rogers had in her system was nearly two-and-a-half times the amount needed to kill her, or 13 times her prescription. Sakinofsky based his report, which will not be admitted into evidence, on notes from Rogers’ doctor, and other documents provided to him after her death.

Sakinofsky added that Rogers had what he called a “suicide event” back in 1996, and may have been stockpiling pills in the months before she died in August 2001. He noted that Rogers increased her intake of the drug from four pills per day to five on her own initiative.

When she informed her doctor of this, he increased the dosage to six pills, but strongly cautioned her against taking any more.

Rogers, 40, died of an overdose in her apartment during a heat wave while she was under house arrest for welfare fraud.

The psychiatrist said it was highly unlikely Rogers took the overdose either to help her sleep during the heat wave or because she was addicted to the drug.

“Nobody gets addicted to this particular drug,” said Sakinofsky, explaining that unlike heroin or cocaine, Amitripryline does not work immediately, and often comes with unpleasant side-effects, such as blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain, dizziness, difficulty urinating, irregular heartbeat, and a risk of seizures or comas.

A patient typically needs 50-100 mgs, “but never more than that” in order to sleep, said Sakinofsky.

“In my view, she did not take this either to get to sleep or out of addiction … she took it to die.”

While other witnesses have said Rogers seemed upbeat about her pregnancy and did not appear suicidal, Sakinofsky said suicide attempts often come just a week after a triggering event, and many people who attempt suicide have no wish to die. “Suicide is not (a matter of) yes or no … it is shades across a spectrum.”

Sakinofsky suggested most research shows about 37 per cent of people who attempt suicide do so merely as a “coping mechanism” while a further 40 per cent might take an overdose of pills as a means of temporarily escaping from intolerable stress.

A further 15 per cent “don’t give a damn” if they live or die, and attempt suicide as a “trial by ordeal,” hoping “Prince Charming or Princess Charming” will rescue them from bad situations.

Only seven per cent fully intend to die when they attempt suicide, said Sakinofsky. Those in the final category often go into the woods or a hotel room and end their lives with a gun or some other foolproof method.

As the second expert witness to date, Sakinofsky recommended that doctors should prescribe drugs such as Amitripryline only as a last resort after other, less-dangerous drugs, such as Prozac and Paxcil, have been exhausted.



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