Seth Speken

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Seth was a 23-year-old young man who had lived his entire life in the Riverdale section of New York. Seth was a good student who attended a school for the gifted in the city. At age 16, he developed Crohn’s Disease, and while his condition showed some improvement, it never left him and he was often totally incapacitated. This changed his plans, and he attended college close to home.

Seth then developed panic disorder. During the last year of his life, Seth was prescribed Xanax to control the panic attacks. This medicine was working. He maintained an A average until his death.

In August of 1993, Seth suffered a seizure. Although his physician father gave the emergency room doctor extensive information regarding his son’s medical history, including the medication he was taking, none of this was found written on his chart. Seth was experiencing classic withdrawal symptoms from Xanax. What was called his “bizarre” behavior led to his being put in restraints. Because no notes were written regarding his Xanax use, he was not treated for withdrawal but instead was consistently restrained and given medications.

His blood pressure became elevated, and by day seven was a dangerous 160/110. An EKG showed his heart rate at 116 beats per minute. Seth was transferred to the psychiatric ward of the hospital, miles away. Seth died alone, naked in a bathroom, of emboli caused by a week of thrashing to get out of restraints and being given a medicine that was causing him to become more and more agitated.