The antidepressants that killed


Danilo Tuesday, October 25, 2011 starts quite normally for Danilo Terrida. He wakes up and gets ready for another day at the Maritime College in Frederikshavn, Denmark. Then he takes one of the antidepressants (commonly known in Danish as: happy pills, which is also used among doctors), he has now been taking for 11 days, to help him feel happy again. A little later the phone rings. It is his father, Denis, calling from the other end of the country. From Gentofte. He wants to know how Danilo is doing. Danilo says his mood has not really changed, and it gets Denis to mention the Oslo trip, which Danilo and his two years older brother, Daniele, have planned the following Friday. A trip Danilo is looking very much forward to.

In the evening, about six o’clock, Denis again speaks on the phone with Danilo. He is going down to the local Blockbuster to deliver a few movies. An ordinary chore on an ordinary Tuesday. Therefore, Denis is not worried when he hangs up the phone and sits down in front of the television to see Milan play a match. Meanwhile Danilo gets to his computer. He starts writing his last status update on Facebook ever. The update gets Danilo’s older brother, David, to call their parents. He asks Denis and Marianne whether they have seen what Danilo has written. That he would take his own life. No, enough is enough, Denis thinks. Now, Danilo is going home. Denis is not really afraid when he gets into his car and drive to Frederikshavn. Truly, Danilo is sad, but he can never consider actually committing suicide. And now he also gets the pills to help his mood. Denis tries to call his son, but the phone has been turned off. Therefore he texts him instead. He writes Danilo how much he loves him. In Italian – Denis’ mother tongue. Meanwhile, the needle on the dashboard reaches 200 kilometers per hour. But it does not matter. Denis has almost reached the Lillebælt Bridge when Marianne calls: “Denis, pull over.” In the background he can hear one of Danilo’s brothers cry. Marianne need not say more.

This is the story of Danilo Terrida who hanged himself from a crane on October 25, 2011. It is the story of a 20-year-old man who received antidepressants without receiving an examination from his doctor, without being told what side effects the medicine could cause and without the doctor watching Danilo, though it was well known among doctors that the pills increased the risk of suicide. 11 days after Danilo had taken the first pill, they cost him his life. This is also the story of the battle, Danilo’s parents have fought since their son died. A fight to stop the reckless use of antidepressants, and a struggle to get doctors and health authorities to recognize their responsibility. It is a struggle to prevent other parents to lose their children to the medicine.