SHANE CLANCY had no alcohol in his system when he stabbed Sebastian Creane to death before turning the knife on himself last August.
"If he was drinking it could have been said he did what he did because of the alcohol mixing with the antidepressants. But that's not what happened," his mother Leonie Fennell tells the Sunday Tribune at her home in Redcross, Co Wicklow, the day after her son's inquest.
"Does someone need to be the sacrificial lamb to get the message out there about the dangers of anti-depressants? Is that why it happened to Shane?"
Fennell is not opposed to the prescription of anti-depressants. But she believes that her son is in a minority of people who react badly to them. The pills made him feel anxious, on edge and more depressed as he struggled to get over breaking up with his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Hannigan, whom he also stabbed, along with Creane's older brother Dylan, that fateful night last summer.
"I'm not saying they don't work for other people. Of course they do, and of course they should be prescribed and people should not stop taking them because of what happened to Shane. He had a reaction to the tablets. His tongue got swollen from taking them. Then he overdosed on them and the second doctor prescribed him the same thing. If he'd been given a different type of anti-depressant the second time, he might have been OK."
Every member of Shane Clancy's family feels nothing but heartfelt sorrow for the suffering of Sebastian Creane's loved ones.
"We can't apologise enough. But I am not going to stop fighting for Shane. I will never stop defending my son. We cannot change what happened that night. But that was not Shane," she says.
In a touching moment at the 22-year-old's inquest in East Wicklow's coroner's court on Thursday, the solicitor representing the Creane family also expressed the family's condolences to Shane Clancy's relatives.
"It was really nice of them," says Fennell. "Hopefully they understand that wasn't Shane."
The jury at the inquest returned an open verdict. Open verdicts are sometimes recorded at inquests in cases of suicide where the intent of the deceased cannot be proven, usually because there are doubts over the person's ability to make rational decisions because of substances they have consumed, be they alcohol or drugs.
For Shane Clancy's family, the verdict is a vindication of sorts of the type of young man they know Shane was.
"Yes, I do feel a sense of closure. We are very happy with the verdict. But as long as anti-depressants are handed out like Smarties in this country, we will try and highlight the problems they cause."
Behind-the-scenes work has already begun. Fennell has emailed every TD in the Dáil asking that the government launch a public awareness campaign about the side-effects anti-depressants can have. The only person to have responded personally to her so far is former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
While the jury did not return a rider recommendation with its verdict, Shane's family intend also to campaign for government to introduce mandatory monitoring by medical practitioners of patients who have been prescribed anti-depressants.
Of course, Fennell is aware none of this will bring her son back. "It's not going to bring Shane or Sebastian back, but it might help other mothers' sons. I'll do whatever it takes."
The amount of the anti-depressant Citalopram found in Clancy's system was 15 times the normal therapeutic dose. This level was between the toxic and lethal amount, assistant state pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan told the inquest.
Lundbeck is the maker of this medication, and the company was quick to release a statement following the inquest, saying there was "no evidence" linking the drug to violence. But Lundbeck Canada admitted recently that there were side effects linked to this anti-depressant.
"There are clinical trial and post-marketing reports with SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants, in both paediatrics and adults, of severe agitation-type adverse events coupled with self-harm or harm to others," the company said in a statement.
For Fennell and the rest of the family, Lundbeck's statement on Thursday was an insult. "How can they say there is no evidence linking this drug to violence when they've admitted it in Canada? It's ridiculous," she says.
Gilsenan told the inquest he was aware of international evidence that the drug Clancy was taking should not be given to people under 18 and that the drug often inhibited people's decision-making before it started to work.
Psychiatrist Professor David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac, told the inquest it was clear from the evidence that Shane Clancy had had a bad reaction to the drug and should not have been prescribed another course.
Irish-born Healy, who works at Cardiff University school of medicine, said there was very little public awareness of the potential impact of these drugs and he was in favour of compulsory monitoring of patients taking them. He also stressed that he often prescribed anti-depressants and was not in any way opposed to the medication.
The coroner for East Wicklow, Dr Cathal Louth, refused a request by the College of Psychiatry in Ireland to allow it to question Healy's evidence.
Nothing can undo the damage done to three families at the centre of this tragedy. Two young men are dead and what unfolded that night will forever resonate with Hannigan.
"We do now feel we have got some answers about what happened to Shane," continues his mother. "I know my son could not commit suicide if he was thinking clearly. And it goes without saying that he couldn't hurt someone deliberately in his right mind."