My name is Kurt Danysh and in July 2020 I was released from SCI Frackville prison after serving 24 years.
In 1996, at the age of 18, I shot and killed my father, while experiencing a violent reaction to Prozac. I was on Prozac for just 14 days.
I have no memory of pulling out the gun or firing it, only the sound of the shot and the scene before me. It felt as though I was observing myself from above and to the right. Like a mantra, I kept repeating “Oh my God, what have I done? ...Oh my God, what have I done?...Oh my God, what have I done?”
Although confused about what had occurred, I was not emotionally connected to it. Instead, my only thought was to speak with my girlfriend’s mother, whom had become a surrogate mother to me.
After explaining to her what had occurred, she asked me what I was going to do. My answer surprised even me, I was going to shoot myself. It wasn’t a plan or something I had thought about since the shooting. It was just an idea that was already “there.” Again, I had no emotional attachment to it. I could have ended my life as effortlessly as turning off a light switch.
In the end, my girlfriend’s mother saved my life by convincing me to instead tell the police what had occurred. Until that point, I had not even considered the fact that what occurred was “illegal.” It never dawned on me.
This might sound weird, but it felt like something else, like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding the gun. It felt like someone else shot him.
Following my arrest, witnesses confirmed that there had been a “major change” in my behaviour and mood after I began taking Prozac, which they described as “violent, unusual and really strange.”
In jail I was evaluated by a psychologist, who concluded that “nothing in his past or in his psychological profile suggests why he would [commit] murder, especially his own father… nothing in my assessment explains why he committed this murder.”
On the advice of my court appointed attorney, who assured me that there was no evidence linking Prozac to violence, I pleaded guilty to third degree murder and was sentenced to serve 22 ½ to 60 years in prison.
Today, 25 years after my sentencing, evidence has emerged proving that antidepressants can cause violent behaviour.
Since 2005, antidepressant manufacturers are legally obliged to include language on their product labels, warning patients to call 911 immediately if they begin “acting aggressive, being angry or violent, [and/or] acting on dangerous impulses.” (4)
No less than 15 courts of law have attributed homicidal behaviour to a defendant’s use of antidepressants. In these cases, the defendants were either outright acquitted of the criminal charges or granted lenient sentences (to include probation for murder) based upon evidence linking antidepressants to homicide.
A 2010 study identified, from FDA data, SSRI antidepressants as the most “strongly and consistently” implicated class of drugs associated with “homicide, physical assault, physical abuse, homicide ideation, or violence-related syndrome.”
So irrefutable is the evidence against antidepressants that my prosecutor now concedes that Prozac could have played a role in my offence. In a 2014 letter endorsing a reduction of my sentence, my prosecutor wrote that:
“My review of the record in this matter over the past several years, coupled with increased media reporting and scientific data, have convinced me of one thing... there is the potential that the use of Prozac played a role in your homicidal act… This potential fact creates something that could have been considered as a mitigation at the time of your sentence... and it was not as the Court did not have that information available to it."
Unfortunately, despite my prosecutor’s endorsement, my judge has determined that he lacks the legal authority to reduce my sentence.
I’ve now been released on parole after serving my minimum sentence. This means I will be supervised under threat of being returned to prison for any violation of parole until I am 78 years old.
It is impossible to repair the harm caused by Prozac, in my case the loss of my father, the devastation inflicted upon my family and the unrelenting guilt I will forever live with. But I hope I can use my experience and knowledge to prevent future tragedy.
Click here to read more accounts of stolen lives.
Kurt served 24 years for killing his father after taking Prozac