James Torlakson

Artist: watercolors, oils, etchings, drawings

On the morning of March 15, 2004, Elizabeth Torlakson, my daughter, walked into a BART train tunnel and moments later was killed by a train. The San Francisco Medical Examiner's final report states that the presence of her antidepressant Citalopram (Celexa) in her body was the other significant factor contributing to her death (the first being the train).

There is mounting evidence that SSRI antidepressants are contributing factors in suicide amongst those taking these drugs. I know that the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry have evidence to this effect and that they are suppressing it. England and other European nations have warned their populations of these dangers and have banned the use of some of these drugs. The U.S. Government and the pharmaceutical industry remain silent. I believe that Elizabeth would be alive today had she been given proper warning in regard to Celexa and its dangers. I also believe that this drug, that was supposed to be helping her, killed her.

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Our Living Room

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Our living room is small by most standards; twelve by sixteen feet with a door in each wall and a window facing the street. The room is cluttered with displays of toys I collect, toys my two-year-old son plays with, some worn furniture, lots of pictures, and a rug on the bare wood floor.

My wife, my son, and I talk, play, watch TV, and entertain friends in this room. However crowded, it is warm and comfortable.

In the late afternoon, when the sunlight is direct and at the right angle, this room becomes magical. There is a crystal hanging in the window which rotates in the mild breeze and projects dancing rainbows on the walls and ceiling. Our son delights in the magic of the rainbows and my wife and I delight in the magic of our son.

When the sun moves out of position, the rainbows fade and the room becomes its ordinary self again; small, warm, and comfortable. There is an undemanding expectation that the rainbows will return. To one who had never seen the rainbows, the room would appear comfortable and complete without them.

My first child, Elizabeth, was born twenty-one years ago. As she grew up, she spent much time in this living room and later shared it with us when she came to visit. She was like the rainbows. Magic and delight radiated from her inner light. The living room was brighter when Elizabeth was there. There was an undemanding expectation that Elizabeth would return after each time she left.

It's been over six months and Elizabeth has not been back. She won't be coming back. A couple of weeks after her last visit, Elizabeth died. The medical examiner called it suicide; I believe it was murder. The miracle drug a doctor prescribed to Elizabeth caused her to commit suicide.

There are no words to convey the depth of my pain and sorrow; of all of our pain and sorrow. My life feels like our living room. To one who does not know of Elizabeth, my life may look comfortable and complete. It is not.

If the crystal in the living room window broke, I could replace it and the dancing rainbows would return. Elizabeth can never be replaced. A lot of the magic in and of my life died with her. For those that knew her, this is not the same life; not the same world. It is not that the glass is half empty; it is that the glass is broken.

by James Torlakson
September 11, 2004

More people have been killed by their S.S.R.I. antidepressants than were killed by terrorists on 9/11. Who are the terroristss?

 

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BALLOONS

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by James Torlakson
1986

BALLOONS

 

Balloons pop

With a rushing of air,

The fabric of joy

Is subject to tear,

 

Some slowly shrivel

And lie in a heap,

All carnal pleasure

In time must sleep,

 

Bright, shining colors

Lighter than air,

Savor the moment

Tomorrow is bare.

 

 

By James Torlakson 1987

This poem was written for four-year-old Elizabeth in response to her many questions concerning the fleeting and fragile nature of balloons.
 

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Why?

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by James Torlakson
1986

Why, why, why are things the way they are?
and why were they the way they was?
When I don't know the answer, my dear,
I often say just because:

Because God wanted the sky to be blue,
Because God wanted blonde hair on top of you,
Because God wanted those points on that star,
Some things just are the way they are.

Why, why, why are things the way they are
and how are they going to be?
I don't know the answer, my dear,
You'll just have to wait and see.

Will you make paintings or dance on some stage?
Will you know the answers, when you come of age?
Will you be honest or will you live a lie?
What will you say when you're asked why?

 

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Corporate Gods

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by James Torlakson
March 2005

Faceless mechanisms created to limit liability; to amass money and power,
Shields for individuals to operate behind that dilute personal responsibility,

Businesses devoid of a human face may be pure in that they are not so encumbered by humanitarian, ethical, and ecological concerns that might interfere with the quest for profit, power, and self-preservation.

Pure in the sense that people become numbers,
Pure in the sense that the earth is a resource for the taking,
Pure in the sense that the future extends no further than a generation or two,
Pure in the sense that profit and power are ends in and of themselves.

Masked behind these pure business entities are a relatively small number of people who reap the rewards of massive profit and awesome power;
People who have everything they need and nearly everything they want,
except enough money and power.

Millions or billions become trophies to flaunt amongst themselves,
Power can be purchased -more money; more power,
More power; more godlike,
Gods in a universe that cannot see beyond itself.

The corporate elite must have families,
They must love their children.

My daughter died as a result of corporate greed,
She was a number, a statistic, in the eyes of a pharmaceutical institution.
She was a risk worth taking for profit,
Under the guise of a wonder drug, a corporation sold my daughter a toxin,
They sold her a loaded gun; a calculated risk.

My daughter was precious to me;
her life was of infinite value,
She was not a number, she was not a vehicle for profit.
She died as a result of ingesting a profitable wonder drug.

I wish the elite families who profited from my daughters life had valued and protected her, as I am sure they value and protect their own daughters.

As gods they had the power to spare my daughter. They chose not to.

 

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Dr. Benton Drugged My Daughter to Death

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by James Torlakson
2004

Cynthia L. Benton, M.D. became Elizabeth's psychiatrist on 11/13/02. Upon meeting, Elizabeth expressed concerns for her health because Serzone, her previous antidepressant, was known to cause liver problems. Benton switched her to "safe" Celexa, an SSRI antidepressant. "start Celexa @ 10mg and up as tolerated, also start Trazadone", which sedates and helps with insomnia.

Benton's 11/19/02 record indicates that Elizabeth had been taking Celexa (20mg) with no side effects. Then states that Elizabeth had been be able to go to work only one day, had not been able to attend school, and was unsure if she will be able to return no side effects? "Celexa @ 20 mg, Trazadone @ 50 mg".

Benton's 1/6/03 record shows that Elizabeth had missed Celexa for five days felt depressed started to double up occasionally. There is no indication that Elizabeth was told this variation in dosage was inappropriate or risky. A pattern of unchecked self-medication begins here. Then the record states that Elizabeth was fired from her job and didn't feel like looking for work. Elizabeth had been very happily employed prior to meeting Benton and starting Celexa. Benton is apparently oblivious to this. Benton increases her dose by 100%, from 20mg to 40mg.

Benton's 1/13/03 record indicates Elizabeth felt some improvement in mood, was isolating, had bad dreams twice a week, and was missing her job there is no indication that Benton ever suggested that Elizabeth find a new job. What ever happened to behavior modification verses medication?

Benton's 2/4/03 record states that Elizabeth would like to up her Celexa dosage (self-medication?) because she was feeling depressed occasionally. Benton increases her dosage by 50% from 40mg to 60mg.

Benton's 4/1/03 record indicates Elizabeth had not been feeling depressed, was getting 8-9 hours of sleep and took Trazadone as needed for sleep "clearly allowing self-medication" which occurred several times per week. Then the record states that sedation was Elizabeth's side effect from Celexa and indicates that Benton observed warning signs of mania. Benton issues new prescriptions for Celexa and Effexor (plan to transition off of Celexa to Effexor, because of sedation on Celexa-now prescribing three drugs? If Elizabeth is too sedated on Celexa, why is she instructed to self-medicate on Trazadone, which sedates? Benton appears to sense that Celexa is not the right drug for Elizabeth, but is not looking at the appropriateness of Trazadone. Nine hours of sleep is a lot of sleep for a twenty-year-old who has not been feeling depressed. The side effects of (over) sedation and the warning signs of mania would inspire some doctors to question if the already prescribed drugs were helping or hurting. Yet Benton adds a third drug to Elizabeth's medicinal cocktail.

Benton's 5/12/03 record indicates Elizabeth did not show for her appointment. There is a 4/14/03 notation on the bottom of the previous record indicating Elizabeth doing well (was this in regard to a phone call from Elizabeth?) and "original note lost". Benton's Medication Record indicates she prescribed Celexa with one refill on 4/14/03 (a two month supply which would be exhausted by 6/14/03; along with same supply of Effexor).

Benton's 6/25/03 records indicates all is OK and that Elizabeth never started Effexor-another approved self-medicating decision by Elizabeth? The record shows that the side effects and risks of Celexa and Trazadone were discussed-this is the first time this was indicated on any record-there is no signature or initials of Elizabeth's indicating this occurred (these unsubstantiated claims will appear on all future records). Elizabeth was pregnant at this time. Elizabeth should be out of Celexa by now, yet Benton indicates she is continuing with Celexa and Trazadone? This does not add up.

Benton's 9/10/03 record indicates Elizabeth did not show. There was no indication of any phone call. Elizabeth was pregnant at this time. Elizabeth was carefully following a plan of good nutrition and very cautious about what she put into her body. Elizabeth shared this with my wife and I. Elizabeth apparently was not taking any drugs. According to Benton's Medication Record, Elizabeth would have run out of Celexa months earlier. Benton appears to be oblivious.

Benton's 10/28/03 record indicates Elizabeth did not show. Again, there was no indication of any phone call. Elizabeth was bedridden with her pregnancy at this time. Again, Elizabeth was carefully following a plan of good nutrition and was very cautious about what went into her body. Elizabeth apparently was not taking any drugs. According to Benton's Medication Record, Elizabeth would have run out of Celexa months earlier. Benton appears to be oblivious, as you will see in her next record.

Benton's 11/5/03 record indicates Elizabeth is doing well and continuing Celexa. How could she be continuing if she ran out? This makes no sense. There are no new entries in her Medication Record. Benton appears not to have been keeping accurate records and/or was completely "out of touch" with Elizabeth and/or was again approving of some form of self-medication.

Benton's 12/10/03 record indicates Elizabeth gave birth and is continuing with Celexa. Again, HOW?

Benton's 2/4/04 record indicates Elizabeth has been off Celexa since mid-December. Again, HOW? How could she be discontinuing if she ran out? This makes no sense. There are no new entries in her Medication Record. Benton appears not to have been keeping accurate records and/or was completely "out of touch" with Elizabeth and/or was again approving some form of self-medication. Then the record goes on to say Elizabeth is feeling tired and not getting around to taking it (Celexa); was feeling OK at first; and more depressed now. Again, approving self-medication? Benton now has Elizabeth restart Celexa giving her a new prescription and two refills (three month supply). Benton is clearly aware Elizabeth has never taken Celexa as she should have been instructed (if she ever was instructed), makes an unsubstantiated claim of advising her about risks, and gives her the largest prescription yet. Benton has gone beyond irresponsibility; beyond MALPRACTICE-she has just issued Elizabeth a DEATH SENTENCE.

Elizabeth ran out of Celexa while in bed with the flu during the week of March 7th, she seemed to be OK, until she woke up overtly suicidal on the 14th. While still suicidal, she refilled her prescription that evening and took her normal dose. (She may have taken another premature dose on the morning of the 15th.). Approximately 12 hours after restarting Celexa, she walked into a BART subway tunnel and was killed by a train. The San Francisco Medical Examiner described Elizabeth's death as suicide and named the presence Celexa as the "other significant condition contributing to death" (other than the train).

In mid-May, after receiving the Medical Examiner's toxicology report, I called Dr. Benton and related the Examiner's report. I asked her if she thought Celexa had caused Elizabeth's death. Dr. Benton coolly replied, "I don't know. I wasn't there." I truly could not believe my ears. Of course, I knew Dr. Benton was not in the subway station when Elizabeth died. In this conversation, Benton never expressed any feelings about Elizabeth's death or sympathy toward me, her grieving father. Her icy demeanor may well have been a manifestation of her guilt and fear regarding her role in causing Elizabeth's death. I asked how to obtain her records on Elizabeth. She replied. That was the end of our first conversation.

On June 1, 2004, I met with Dr. Benton in her San Francisco office to pickup a copy of Benton's medical file regarding her treatment of Elizabeth (which I have been referring to throughout this document). I, again, asked her if she thought Celexa had caused Elizabeth's death. She said no. I asked her what she thought about all the mounting recent (and past) reports which indicate that SSRI antidepressants cause suicides. She said all these reports were unsubstantiated and she did not believe them. I asked if she still prescribed Celexa to her patients. She said yes. I shook her cold hand and left with Benton"s "Elizabeth" file.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner had interviewed Benton after Elizabeth's death. He related in Elizabeth's Final Examination that Benton "stated the subject (Elizabeth) had been only sporadically compliant with her medications" and "The subject would go on and off her medications on her own."

Why would Benton continue to drug Elizabeth when she so clearly knew Elizabeth never followed the proper methods for using Celexa?

Did Benton ever give Elizabeth proper instruction?

Dr. Benton appears to have approved of Elizabeth's self-medication style. She certainly encouraged this style by continuing to prescribe, prescribe, prescribe.

How could Dr. Benton have ever warned Elizabeth of the serious suicidal risks of Celexa when she did not believe there were any?

Links between SSRI antidepressants and suicide were established over ten years before Elizabeth died. Two years before her death, England and other European nations started pulling some of these drugs off the market and put SEVERE SUICIDE WARNING LABELS on SSRI antidepressants. If Dr. Benton had studied any of these reports, she might not have been so very instrumental in the killing of Elizabeth.

Dr. Benton apparently got her information about Celexa directly from Forest Laboratories, Inc. (makers of Celexa). These companies producing SSRI antidepressants have been suppressing the Suicide Epidemic for a decade. The FDA has done the same. Dr. Benton may legally claim (self-imposed) ignorance, but I don't know how she can consider herself a doctor, an informed professional, or a caring person. I don't know how she sleeps at night.

I believe Dr. Benton is a drug pusher--a dealer; not a healer.

Benton drugged my daughter to death.

Will Cynthia L. Benton, M.D. ever make amends for her disregard for my daughter's life and to her profession?

I wonder?

My intention in this writing is to wake up Cynthia, other medical practitioners, our government, unsuspecting patients, and unsuspecting parents and friends of patients. My intention is to save lives and spare others from the greatest grief and utter frustration I have known.

A European computer model estimated that, at the time of Elizabeth's death, three to five thousand young people had already lost their lives via violent SSRI induced suicides. This does not account for the countless adults who died in the same violent manner; nor for homicides believed to have been inspired by these same drugs. The killing is going on right now.

by James Torlakson
Elizabeth's Father
March 24, 2005

 

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Let me tell you a little about Elizabeth

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by James Torlakson
2004

Let me tell you a little about Elizabeth and what led to her death.

Parents love their children and recognize their uniqueness and beauty. Let me tell you about my daughter, Elizabeth, and what led to her death.

Elizabeth was born on February 6, 1983 and died on March 15, 2004 at the age of twenty-one. She was run down by a train. The San Francisco Medical Examiner reported her death as a suicide and named Celexa (her S.S.R.I. antidepressant) as the other significant contributing factor causing her death. I believe she was murdered. You will see why as you read further.

Elizabeth led an extraordinary life.

Her mother, Kathleen, and I divorced before Liz was one year old. Though there were many difficulties, we both shared in Liz's upbringing and gave her much love.

Elizabeth was a happy, precocious, and verbose child. She often stunned adults with her skilled usage of language and the remarkable content of her conversation. Just before Liz's fourth birthday, she was stricken with Landau Kleffner Syndrome. This seizure disorder completely wiped out her ability to receive and express language. At first, she was all but lost in a world of seizures; unable to communicate. We struggled with communication through hand gestures and drawing. Elizabeth and I had already developed a relationship with games involving drawing and there were times, even in the midst of this dilemma, that we truly enjoyed this communication.

Elizabeth received highly specialized education for four years. She regained some language, but essentially missed out on normal education and socialization during these important formative years. When she was eight, Kathleen and I decided to risk brain surgery for Elizabeth.

The day after Elizabeth had her brain surgery, she got out of her hospital bed and walked around the ward, checking to see if the other patients were OK. This tender and loving behavior characterizes the essence of Elizabeth.

After surgery, her seizures ceased. Liz (Beth as she like to be called at that time) began to recovering language skills. We took her out of the highly specialized educational environment and entered her in regular school with I.E.P. (individualized educational program) assistance. She had great teachers, continued to recover language, and, for the first time since the age of four, began the task of normal socialization.

Grade school went well. However, serious problems began to emerge in junior high. Changing classrooms and teachers, lockers, and mounting homework created much difficulty along with the traditional teenage stresses. Elizabeth was embarrassed at being periodically taken out of regular classes for I.E.P. assistance. She didn't like being singled out; she just wanted to fit in.

Elizabeth was cruelly ridiculed from the age of four to eight in regard to her L.K.S./language difficulties. She dreaded that the other junior high students would find out that she'd had BRAIN SURGERY and that she would be mocked again. Some students knew her from earlier after school child care services and taunted her. I can only imagine how painful and frustrating this all was for her. Elizabeth participated (often with much resistance) in various forms of individual and family counseling. She didn't want to talk about her brain surgery or her "fears of being found out", in therapy or at home. I broached the subject with her on a number of occasions, but she just didn't want to talk about it.

Elizabeth graduated from junior high school and received an achievement award. Kathleen and I were present in a crowded and noisy auditorium for the ceremony. When each student received their diploma there was much cheering. When the most popular students were called up, the auditorium went wild. When Elizabeth was called up on stage, there was absolute silence (except from Kathleen and I). I nearly died. I prayed Elizabeth did not hear the silence. We were proud of her that day. She had on a beautiful dress and looked so pretty, though she was at an awkward preadolescent stage.

Elizabeth was a beautiful child. In her mid-teens, she blossomed. She was remarkably beautiful, stunning.

High school was a disaster; boys, drugs, poor grades, teenage tantrums, severe resistance to I.E.P. assistance and counseling, and she began running away from home and school. In school, she tried to fit in; but could not. She hung out with the misfits. She ended up dropping out of a special high school two weeks before she would have graduated and ran away to live on the streets (to her and her friends, a very romantic life).

She nearly died of a heroin overdose and had minor run-ins with the law. For the next year, I dreaded that I would receive a call from the coroner reporting her death (how ironic this fear would prove.)

In May 2001, a miracle happened. I picked up Elizabeth from jail (some minor offense) and we rode off on my motorcycle to Henry Ohlhoff House, a recovery home for drugs and alcohol. She never used alcohol or illegal drugs again (how ironic that she died as the result of using a legal drug). She transitioned from the recovery home to Guerrero House, a transitional home, where she continued to get her life in order. She resumed counseling. She hooked up with a blind therapist (a woman who understood the world of disabilities) who she really connected with. Upon leaving the Guerrero House, she lived periodically with friends, Kathleen, myself, and finally in her own apartment.

Elizabeth was attending A.A. meetings and hooked up with a group of "recovering misfits" who became wonderful friends. Elizabeth finally fit in. They were part of the sober Punk/Goth world and truly supported each other, as well as had fun.

During this period, Elizabeth got a job at a secondhand clothing store. She already loved shopping and clothes. This job was heaven. She learned to use the cash register and much about the business. Sometimes Kathleen; sometimes Stephanie (my wife) and I would visit Elizabeth at work. She was aglow, self-esteem abound. She had a job she loved, her own money, new friends, and endless stories about the curious shoppers and homeless people in the San Francisco Mission District. This may have been the happiest period of her life.

Then something happened that may have opened up the cracks that Elizabeth eventually fell through. Crack #1: She had changed counselors. Upon the well meaning advice of this social worker, Liz discovered that due to her disability, she was eligible to Social Security benefits. The benefits worked this way: she could received approximately $800 a month. But, if she worked, she would lose a dollar in benefits for each dollar she earned. She would have to earn more than $800 a month in order to realize her first dollar over the $800 per month she would receive for not working (a dreadful system). She lost/quit (arranged to be fired) her job, though with an intention to go back to school and earn her G.E.D.

Just prior to losing her job comes Crack #2: On November 13, 2002, Liz begins a relationship with a new psychiatrist, Cynthia Benton, M.D. For health concerns Elizabeth asked to be taken off of the antidepressant, Serzone, which Liz had discovered had dangerous side effects. Benton prescribed Celexa, the drug that would in time kill Elizabeth. On January 6, 2003, Benton records state that Elizabeth was fired from her job. On January 13, 2003, Benton records that Elizabeth is "missing her job". Benton apparently did not see that relationship between Elizabeth's loss of job and "depression", and continued to drug her. (What happened to behavior modification, like suggesting she get a new job?)

Benton reports (after Elizabeth's death) that Liz "would go off and on Celexa on her own" (not at all advisable), yet she continued to prescribe. Benton's records indicate that she warned Elizabeth of the risks and benefits of Celexa, though Elizabeth's signature or initials are nowhere to be found regarding such warning. I told Benton that the San Francisco Medical Examiner had named Celexa as the significant other factor contributing to her death. Twice after this conversation, Benton told me that there is no evidence that Celexa can cause suicide and that she thought Celexa had nothing to do with Elizabeth's death. What kind of warning could Benton have given to Elizabeth if she still saw no relationship between Celexa and suicide? Reports linking SSRI antidepressants to suicide had been out for ten years. Two years prior to Elizabeth's death, England and other European nations had taken some of the SSRI antidepressants off the market and had put severe suicide warnings on others. Apparently, Benton got all the information she "needed" from the makers of this drug, Forest Laboratories, Inc.

In the Spring of 2003, Elizabeth became pregnant (unplanned) and chose life for her babies. Elizabeth had stopped using Celexa during her pregnancy. She arranged an open adoption and gave birth to healthy twins boys in December. During the Fall of 2003, she also successfully completed her G.E.D. (while pregnant). She was developing a relationship with her children and their adoptive parents. Liz was rightfully proud of her children and the open adoption she had arranged. She and I planned to visit her children in the near future. This visit with Elizabeth and her children (my grandchildren) was never to occur. I cannot tell you how this pains me.

Elizabeth took on the challenge of college at C.C.S.F. (where I teach art) in January 2004. She was having problems in one class, but was succeeding in English. It became a regular and delightful event when Elizabeth would quietly enter my classroom towards the end of my lessons. We would quietly smile at each other. When class was over, we would walk down the hallway towards my car, chatting. Our conversation would continue as drove her toward the BART station, where I would drop her off.

This was the happiest period of my life. I believed that Elizabeth was finally on a truly safe and constructive path. She was clean and sober, had earned her G.E.D., had two beautiful, healthy babies, and was in college with plans for a career in nursing or nutrition. She had a nice apartment of her own, a kitten named Raven, and a nice boyfriend. At this time, Kathleen was going in for surgery and Elizabeth had made plans to stay with her while she recovered. Elizabeth told me she was looking forward to helping her mom, seeing it as an opportunity to return some of the help and nurturing she had received over the years from Kathleen. Though all appeared well for Elizabeth, she did not live long enough to be there for her mother's recovery.

Crack #2 widens on February 4, 2004, as Dr. Benton re-prescribes Celexa. Benton reports that Elizabeth had been off Celexa since mid-December, as Liz indicated that she had been "feeling tired and not getting around to taking it (Celexa)". Benton reports: "feeling OK at first,more depressed now". Two days before Elizabeth's 21st birthday, Benton's "gift" is re-prescribing Celexa (with two refills) which would kill Liz in just forty-one days.

According to Benton's records, Elizabeth does not show for her February 16th appointment. Benton indicated that she spoke on the phone with Liz on the 17th "spoke on phone briefly. Forgot Apt. Doing well, back on Celexa, f/u 1 mo."

On March 3rd, Elizabeth walked quietly into my classroom. We smiled. We walked down the hall and out to my car. She had come to school that sunny morning without a coat. By afternoon it lightly raining. I gave her a sweatshirt I had in the car (it felt good to have this for my child). We drove near the BART station. This time, I parked and we chatted a while. Then I told her I wanted to get going (to surf). We kissed and said "I love you" to each other. I watched her cross the street and head toward the station. I drove away never to see Liz again.

On March 10th, Liz called me in the evening. Her voice was hoarse as she asked me a question about her English homework. I answered and then we chatted briefly. She told me she had caught the flu while caring for her boyfriend (who had the flu a week earlier). I joked, "Isn't love something?" We laughed, then said, "Good-bye. I love you." It was a pleasant loving conversation. Little did I know that was to be our last conversation. (I still have one earlier message from Elizabeth on my answering machine. Her voice was musical.)

March 15th was a particularly warm sunny day. When I finished teaching, I drove home to check my computer and go surfing. While at the computer, the phone rang. I answered hello to a solemn voice: "Is this Mr. James Torlakson, father of Elizabeth Torlakson?" I said yes. "This is the San Francisco Medical Examiner. I have bad news for you..." I dropped the phone, went to my knees, and cried hysterically. No! No! No! Somehow I knew what he was going to say. A minute or more later, I picked up the phone again. He told me that my daughter had died that morning. He was kind. I was devastated beyond comprehension. The bottom had just dropped out of my world.

The next days were like a strange and awful dream. I'm sure I was in shock. I was advised not to view Elizabeth's battered body. I didn't. I made the necessary funeral arrangements. Kathleen arranged a beautiful Mass. The story of the final days of Elizabeth's life and death unraveled over the next weeks.

Jason, Liz's boyfriend, is the sole source. Jason said that Elizabeth had run out of Celexa about a week before she died. She was sick in bed with the flu and didn't refill. (There is no reason to think that Elizabeth had any idea of her pending doom as Benton gave her no real picture of the risks. Benton, with extreme irresponsibility, had given Liz authorization for 2 refills, three months worth of dangerous drugs to a patient with a history of going off and on them on her own?). On Sunday, March 14th, Elizabeth woke up overtly suicidal, repeatedly stating she was going to kill herself. Jason had never seen her like this and obviously didn't know what to do.

Crack #3: Jason did not call 911, did not call Suicide Prevention, did not call me, did not call Kathleen, and did not call any responsible adult. That afternoon, as Liz's suicidal remarks continued, he did call a very young and ignorant mutual girlfriend. She told Jason he must refill the prescription. Jason later related that he had threatened Elizabeth that he would call Kathleen if she wouldn't refill the prescription (a pathetic tactic).

Crack #4: That evening Elizabeth sent Jason to refill the prescription. The Walgreens pharmacist would not. Jason returns empty handed and persuades Elizabeth to come with him. Jason related that Elizabeth was completely "out of it" and they both got strange looks from the pharmacist. Because they had forgotten her medical card or the bottle, the pharmacist turns them away. They return again with the proper material, again get suspicious looks, and the pharmacist refills the prescription. The Walgreens pharmacist failed to respond to a suspicious circumstance, a medical emergency, and sold dangerous drugs to my daughter. No consultation just business as usual. Elizabeth would die in about twelve hours.

At about 9:00 or 10:00 PM, Jason helps administer Elizabeth's Celexa. They were sleeping together. He says that Elizabeth told him she woke up at 4:00 AM and laid awake in bed. Apparently she took another dose that morning before they left her apartment (again, Benton knew this was her MO, nearly doubling her dose). Jason said Liz appeared to be OK (?). Crack #4 widens: They went to a bank, then parted, Jason to work on his bike and Elizabeth down into the BART station on her way to school. Why Jason let her go off on her own after being seriously suicidal the day before I'll never know. He, maybe he was "being the man" preventing anyone from intervening. Jason alone held my daughter's life in his hands. He let Elizabeth slip right through.

I have obtained some of the BART surveillance video stills showing Elizabeth making her way through the turnstile and walking down the platform toward a tunnel. She apparently worked her way past an insecure gate, walked into the tunnel, and moments later was smashed by an oncoming train.

BART refuses to release all of the photographs (though I have requested them all) . They might reveal something. They position of her body on the tracks might indicate if she purposely walked in front of the train, if she attempted to avoid the train, or some other factor. BART seems more concerned about its self image and possible liability than in granting my request. I hope they reconsider.

It seems that I will never know if and when Elizabeth decided to kill herself (consciously or unconsciously). She left no note. I believe that Celexa induced and inspired her death. The San Francisco Medical Examiner believed Celexa was directly involved.

Crack #5: Ironically, persistent parents (whose children had died of S.S.R.I. antidepressant suicides in previous years) finally managed to get this tragic problem to the floor of the United States Congress on March 16th, the day after Elizabeth's life was taken. The FDA knew of the profound number of S.S.R.I. suicides and refused to take action. Daniel Troy, then head of the FDA suppressed Dr. Mosholder's (an FDA member) report which concurred with European finds, directly linking the antidepressants with suicide. (Daniel Troy was President Bush's first major appointment. Daniel Troy was previously employed by pharmaceutical corporations to represent the drug companies against the public, what an evil choice). Again, England had taken steps to take some of the S.S.R.I. drugs off the market and issue serious warnings about SSRI suicides two years earlier. The FDA (in the pockets of the drug companies) failed to warn the American public and doctors about these extreme dangers. Following this Congressional exposure, the FDA concluded that the suicide issue needed more study and took no action. They did not want to alarm the public, interfere with corporate profits.

Crack #6 is the most grievous and wicked. The drug companies knew of the suicide problem all along. They suppressed clinical trials that revealed this travesty so as not to interfere with their huge profits. There has been serious concern about S.S.R.I. antidepressant suicides (and homicides) for more than ten years.

Untold billions of dollars have been made; thousands of innocent lives have been taken.

In 2004, Forest Laboratories, Inc. (makers of Celexa) netted $2,680,274,000.

In 2004, Elizabeth's life was murderously taken and all who knew and loved her lost in a manner that cannot be measured adequately in money.

I hold Forest Laboratories, Inc. accountable for the murder of my daughter, Elizabeth. Her murder was premeditated. To this drug company, Elizabeth was just a number, an annoying statistic that could be overlooked in the pursuit of ungodly profit. Her murder was impersonal, but calculated.

If a person threw a bomb in a crowded theatre, they would know that people would be killed. They wouldn't know exactly who, but they knew people would die as a result of their action. This is the kind of impersonal murder I charge Forest Laboratories, Inc. with.

Enough about Elizabeth's death...

Elizabeth loved nature, animals, plants, people, camping, hiking, shopping, fashion, art (both Kathleen and I are artists), her A.A. friends, her children and their adoptive parents, her parents, her brothers and sister, her relatives, her cat, amusement parks, scary rides, laughing, good nutrition, helping others (especially homeless people), music, and so much more. She packed a lot of experience into her twenty-one years. She overcame many obstacles and displayed courage and kindness throughout her life. Elizabeth was and is my hero, my teacher, my friend, and my precious daughter. It was and is a great honor to be her father.

When Elizabeth was nine months old (preverbal), I took her out in our garden to show her the beauty of a blooming rose. I tried to attract her attention to the flower, but she kept a fixed gaze in the other direction. In a short while, I decided to see what had captured her attention. She was staring at a milkweed plant whose deep green leafs and milky veins were glistening in the sun. I, her father and an artist who knew beauty when I saw it, was humbled. The weed was every bit as beautiful as the rose. I was deeply moved and recognized that Elizabeth was going to be my teacher. She taught many great lessons and is still teaching.

Her greatest lesson was teaching me to love unconditionally. I loved her when her body was forming inside of Kathleen, at the moment of her birth, and this love grew throughout our lives together. This love is still growing as I learn that love is eternal.

Though Liz was overtly beautiful as a child and an adult, she never judged people by their appearances, financial status, race, or creed. She was the least prejudiced person I have known. Two days after Elizabeth passed, her voice came to me. She said (very simply), "Dad, don't judge me ... and don't judge others." As you may have guessed, I am still working on the "don't judge others" part. Perhaps my judgment is not misplaced if it serves to bring about greater awareness and loving change. My intentions are to save lives and further grief.

I miss Elizabeth more than words can say. Her beauty was a mere reflection of her inner self. It was always with curious anticipation that I looked forward to seeing Liz. Her changing and creative sense of fashion was a joy to behold when she was a small child and throughout her life. She was a true beauty without makeup, but it was amazing what playful and stunning looks she concocted when she made herself up. I never knew what color(s) her hair would be when she came to visit. I was curious to see her self-designed tattoos progress and teased her about how they would look when she was old and wrinkly.

I was so curious and hopeful in regard to her future and what she would do with her life. Alas, her life ended at twenty-one and so many dreams and hopes were smashed. The cup that held her life was not half empty, it overflowed.

Those of you knew Elizabeth, are already familiar with much of what I have written here. If you didn't know Elizabeth, I hope I have given you a glimpse of what an extraordinary person she was.

If you would like to know more, please visit www.jamestorlakson.com or www.elizabethtorlakson.org.

If you would like to know more about the dangers of S.S.R.I. antidepressants and other tragic losses, please visit www.drugawareness.org. If you know someone taking these drugs please warn them.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, contact Suicide Prevention. Help and answers are readily available.

Peace and love,
by James Torlakson
Elizabeth's Father
2005