Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s wife Mary Richardson Kennedy was clear-headed and sober when she decided to take her own life on May 16, contrary to assertions that she was abusing drugs and alcohol.
But one of three anti-depressants she was found to be taking, according to a new toxicology report, could have caused her to have suicidal tendencies.
The 52-year-old mother of four hanged herself in a barn on the family estate in New York amid a bitter divorce battle with her husband, who was pressuring her with a barrage of legal maneuvers to gain custody of their children.
In the weeks since her death, she has been portrayed as someone who was abusive toward her husband and frequently abused alcohol and drugs. She was arrested for drunk driving in 2010, shortly after she separated from her husband.
But on the night of her death, there was no evidence of alcohol in her system, according to the newly released toxicology report. No illegal drugs were found in her system nor was she on any kind of pain killers.
Only three different anti-depressants were found in her system: Trazodone, Desmethylvenlafaxine and Venlafaxine, according to the Westchester County medical examiner’s office.
Trazodone is what’s known as a serotonin modulator. It raises the level of serotonin in the brain. The substance, which is found naturally in humans, helps regulate mood, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Venlafaxine is used to treat “general anxiety disorder,” according to the NIH. Typically people who take the drug suffer from excessive worrying that is difficult to control, social anxiety disorder and extreme fear of interacting with others or performing in front of others.
But Desmethylvenlafaxine, which also affects serotonin levels, may have been problematic.
It was found to induce suicidal thoughts at a rate determined to be “significant” in two studies of possible side effects. “Suicidal ideation” was evidenced in one out of two patients, according to studies published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide, according to the Institute.
In the days leading up to her death, Mary was reportedly distraught over the prospect of losing her children in a custody battle, and was reportedly devastated when they were photographed with her husband and his girlfriend, actress Cheryl Hines.
Mary was also reported to be facing serious financial problems amid allegations that Kennedy had stopped supporting her, leaving her destitute. Kennedy denied he cut off financial support.