Husband of Meteorologist Jessica Starr Says Eye Surgery Complications 'Triggered' Her Suicide
Jessica Starr, a popular Detroit meteorologist, killed herself eight weeks after undergoing corrective laser eye surgery
In October, eight weeks before her death, Starr, 35, underwent small incision lenticule extraction, or SMILE. The surgery, which is considered to be less invasive than Lasik, uses a laser to make a very small opening on the eye in order to remove a layer of tissue within the cornea to change its shape and correct nearsightedness.
“If anyone would’ve told me or her family, and said she was capable of hurting herself,” I wouldn’t have believed you,” her husband Dan Rose told Today in an interview published last Saturday. “Without a doubt in my mind, something related to this procedure triggered this.”
Although the mother of two had been told the procedure would only take about five days to recover from, her husband said that “within three or four days after the procedure, she started saying stuff like, ‘I think something went wrong. I don’t feel right.’ ”
As Starr continued to struggle with her recovery, Rose said she experienced extreme light sensitivity and had to apply eye drops every five minutes to restore her vision.
“She was a very tough individual,” Rose told Today, adding that she was incredibly emotional after returning to work at Fox 2 News on Nov. 13.
“She came home after that first day, fell into my arms and just started crying,” he said.
As her difficulties continued, Rose said Starr went to five different ophthalmologists, all of whom said she just needed more time to recover. Just days before her death, she also visited a corneal specialist who told her the same thing.
“I think this procedure sent her into such a dark space,” Rose said, detailing the notebook Starr kept at the time. “She wrote that because of the loss of vision, I can’t be a mom, I can’t be a wife, I can’t work. I’ve lost every aspect of my life.”
Starr, who chronicled her recovery on her Facebook page, also said in one of her video diaries that she regretted having the procedure.
“I’m really mad at myself for doing this,” she said. “I don’t know why. I was fine in contacts. Glasses weren’t that big of a deal. It was fine.”
Rose went on tell Today that while he doesn’t “want to shut” SMILE surgery down, he wants people to understand all the risks associated with it.
“People need to do their homework, they need to be comfortable with their doctor, and I would like to see the follow-up care for this procedure change,” he said.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, studies show the procedure is safe and effective and that complications are very rare. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery told ABC News in a statement that “clinical data on SMILE shows sight compromising complications are extremely rare, at less than one percent.”
Starr’s death was announced on-air by her station on Dec. 13.
“Last night we were informed of the heartbreaking news that our friend and colleague, meteorologist Jessica Starr took her life,” they said. “All of us here at Fox 2 are in deep shock and cannot believe that such a wonderful, bright and intelligent individual will no longer be with us. Her family and friends will be in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days as we all deal with our grief.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.