Scientology Sued Over Suicide: Antidepressants Allegedly Locked Away in Favor of Scientology Program

kyle_prom488px-scientology_symbolsvgA mother has sued the Church of Scientology after her son, Kyle Brennan, 20, committed suicide. He was on antidrepressants, but his father Thomas Brennan allegedly took away the prescription drugs as part of his Scientology beliefs. After only one week with his father in Clearwater, Florida, Kyle committed suicide. His mother, Victoria Britton, has sued the sister of Scientology’s worldwide leader, David Miscavige.

The mother, who is not part of the church, says that her son was put into a church-oriented drug treatment program and that two other Scientology members worked with Thomas Brennan in locking away the medicine.

The Church is moving to dismiss on the ground that the death did not occur on church grounds and the men were not formal officials with the church. It may have a point. A court would have to hold the Church’s view of psychiatry and related drugs as negligent. It would be akin to holding the Catholic church liable for discouraging the use of condoms.

Another problem is that the police found that Kyle had not been taking his medication regularly, here. Lexapro requires patients to take the medication consistently.

The lawsuit names Denise Gentile, the twin sister of the church’s current worldwide leader, David Miscavige, as well as her husband, Gerald Gentile. Denise Gentile is accused to convincing the father to take Kyle off the medication. While not an official, the twin sister of Miscavige is known to carry considerable weight in this Church. The primary question is whether a court will find that Britton has enough alleged in the complaint to allow discovery — always a nightmare for the church which has been accused of being a cult in various countries.

Suicides and deaths have been carefully chronicled by anti-Scientology websites. Indeed, a church official was previously been held liable for a suicide as in this case.

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16 thoughts on “Scientology Sued Over Suicide: Antidepressants Allegedly Locked Away in Favor of Scientology Program”

  1. This happened in Clearwater, Scientology’s HQ. Even if Brennan wanted to secretly get more Lexapro after his was taken away, could he even had found a pharmacy there that stocks it?

  2. Gyges,
    I agree with you as I tried to make clear in my first comment.
    I have personally seen psychotropic drugs work wonders on psychiatric cases in the programs I ran. Toughing it out is never a solution for people suffering, only a response by those threatened by what they see in another and/or feeling helpless to help them solve their problems. While there are many amazing psychiatrists filled with empathy and knowledge, I have worked with quite a few whose work was destructive to patients and who themselves exhibited signs of mental illness. Their actions were usually hand in hand with mis-diagnosis and prescribing
    things that made the patients conditions worse.

  3. Mike,

    I agree with you, but I think that sometimes the message can be a little too broad. A large percentage of people assume that it’s all just a matter of choosing to “buck up.” As I’m sure you know, that’s just not the case, there is a very valid role for anti-depressants and other Psychoactive drugs.

    As someone who has several friends\relatives who genuinely need\needed those drugs, I always have to inject that into the conversation.

  4. ‘This guy is a respected, tenured Harvard Child Psychiatrist, but basically a whore for money…’

    That’s why you should be reading the Boston Globe…

  5. As a follow up to my earlier comments on Psychiatrists and the misapplication of psychotropic drugs read this for a jolt:

    This guy is a respected, tenured Harvard Child Psychiatrist, but basically a whore for money. People who diagnose pre-school children as ADD or Bi-Polar and then use psychotropics with them are really akin to the Nazi doctors and their infamous experiments. So as crazy as Scientology is, and it is, even the craziest groups sometimes accidentally stumble across good points.

  6. Seamus,
    Good quote, remember it well. I wish, however, you wouldn’t let your deeply held religious faith act as a barrier to your understanding.

    Mithra be with you eternally!

  7. “Ugly buildings, politicians, and prostitutes all get respectible if they last long enough” Noah Cross (fron the movie Chinatown, and I’m sure it was stolen from somewhere else)

    So who knows, if Scientology lasts long enough, maybe morons will emprace it in larger numbers than those embracing the Catholic Church, Islam etc. I mean, it’s not as though Scientologists feel compelled to cut the tips of the son’s penis’s off as an offering to an all powerful God. Something like that might get them arrested or sued. It might make me think they were bat-shit crazy.

    It’s not asthough Scientologists claim they can raise the dead, or turn wine and waffers in to actual flesh and blood as I eat it.

    They deserve atleast as mush time as the Mormoms to hoodwink a few more people into believing they had bullit proof underwear, can bring all their material wealth into the next life where they will become gods themselves and inhabit other planets.

    End communication, Xenu.

  8. You make a good point, mespo. As you can probably tell, I don’t handle personal injury work. However, I know that the church is not particularly popular in Clearwater due to its economic power. That could be beneficial to the plaintiff.

  9. MIke:

    I would like the case better if the plaintiff’s decedent was a minor instead of an adult who could make decisions for himself. It’s big hurdle with most juries to overcome assumption of risk, and contributory negligence for an indirect act of negligence.

  10. I believe that, if properly framed, a negligence action against the Church of Scientology would survive a motion to dismiss. The church’s opposition to psychiatry and psychiatric medications is well documented. Those who intentionally interfere with a physician-patient relationship are swimming in dangerous waters. Even if it were established through expert testimony that the drugs were medically unnecessary, the church should be charged with knowledge that the withdrawal from psychotropic drugs should only be accomplished under medical supervision. No doubt there is a comparative negligence defense available in this case, but I suspect that a jury could reasonably conclude that there was a direct causal relationship between the son’s death and the actions of the church.

  11. Singling out and criticizing the behavior of one cult versus any other is to make a distiction without a difference. For instance:

    * The Cathoic Church has long held that if a decision has to made between saving a woman’s life or that of her baby during childbirth, the woman’s life will be the one sacrificed. One can only imagine how many women’s lives this has cost over the long history of that particular cult. Has this practice ever been tested by lawsuit?

    * There have been numerous stories of Jehovah’s Witness followers withholding medical treatments resulting in deaths. Have there been lawsuits? What outcomes?

    * People have died as a result of various religious ceremonies such as exorcisms, initialtion rites, etc. We’ve seen lawsuits when this involves military and juvenile delinquent boot camps, fraternity/sorority hazing, but I don’t recall how any verdicts came out on any religious-based claims.

    I would alter and broaden Mike Spindell’s observation by saying that all religion is a scam, both emotional and financial. It can also be a dangerous or even life-threatening one.

  12. Scientology is a scam created by an accomplished pulp science fiction writer to take advantage of exempting churches from taxes. You know its a scam because people have to pay more and more as they advance through the levels and gain greater knowledge. L. Ron Hubbard always looked like W.C. fields to me and had as much credibility.

    However, There is over prescription of psychotropic and mood altering drugs in this country that is equally disturbing. While working in the Psychiatric field I saw many instances of beneficial effects of these medications. By the same token I saw many instances where they were prescribed by disengaged Psychiatrists, with little thought to the downside and adverse reactions occurring. So in this case while the source is questionable, the questions are reasonable.

  13. these type of cult religions are a very bad thing, we have a friend whose daughter got caught up in the Toronto Airport Church (Benny Hinn I think) and she is still a basket case. these people prey on the vulnerable.

    I hope she wins her case, although legally speaking does she even have a chance? How can the church be blamed for what the father did and the son is 20 so dosent he have some responsibility for taking his meds?

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