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Why Are Suicides Climbing in the Military? Let's Look at the Drugs Being Prescribed

Posted by on Feb. 5, 2013 at 4:37 AM
  • 19 Replies


Why does the suicide rate among military personnel continue to climb--even among those who never saw combat? This week the Pentagon announced there were more suicides among active-duty members of the armed services in 2012 than combat deaths--a staggering 349. Eighty-five percent had not even seen combat, reported Bloomberg.

The  suicide rate rose similarly last year and also included troops who had not faced combat. There were 38 Army suicides in July of 2012 compared with 32 suicides in July of 2011. In a 2010 Army report called Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Report, 36 percent of the troops who killed themselves had never even deployed. The suicide rate increased by more than 150 percent in the Army and more than 50 percent in the Marine Corps between 2001 to 2009, reported Military Times in a series of in-depth articles.

One in six service members was on a psychoactive drug in 2010 and "many troops are taking more than one kind, mixing several pills in daily 'cocktails' for example, an antidepressant with an antipsychotic to prevent nightmares, plus an anti-epileptic to reduce headaches--despite minimal clinical research testing such combinations," said Military Times.

The pills and pill cocktails many troops are prescribed are clearly linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior. Antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil, antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa and anti-seizure drugs like Lyrica and Neurontin all carry clear suicide warnings and all are widely used in the military. Almost 5,000 newspaper reports link antidepressants to suicide, homicide and bizarre behavior on the website SSRIstories.com. The malaria drug Lariam is also highly correlated with suicide and its use actually increased in the Navy and Marine Corps in 2011, according to the Associated Press.

Eighty-nine percent of troops with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are now given psychoactive drugs and between 2005 and 2009, half of all TRICARE (the military health plan) prescriptions for people between 18 and 34 were for antidepressants. During the same time period, epilepsy drugs like Topamax and Neurontin, increasingly given off-label for mental conditions, increased 56 percent, reports Military Times. In 2008 578,000 epilepsy pills and 89,000 antipsychotics were prescribed to deploying troops.

Both the increase in the overall suicide rate in the US (rising to 36,000 a year after falling in the 1990s according to USA Today) and in the military coincide with the debut of direct-to-consumer drug advertising in the late 1990s. They are also correlated with the FDA's approval of many drugs with suicide links and a population that is increasingly taking psychoactive drugs for minor problems and symptoms. Several powerful military psychiatrists and administrators are also consultants to Big Pharma who shamelessly enroll veterans in drug studies and promote the pills that drug companies pay them to promote. Who can say conflict of interest?

When concerns about the rise in the general suicide rate in the US surfaced last fall, US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announced federal grants for suicide hotlines, more mental health workers, better depression screening and Facebook tracking of suicidal messages. Nowhere, did she mention examining the role of suicide-linked drugs on, ahem, suicide. The Pentagon is apparently in similar denial.

 

 

More information about overmedication of troops and suicide-linked drugs is found in Martha Rosenberg's recently publishedBorn With a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health.

 

by on Feb. 5, 2013 at 4:37 AM
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Replies (1-10):
rfurlongg
by on Feb. 5, 2013 at 7:53 AM
Interesting. Looks like this deserves some further research.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
meriana
by Platinum Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 8:45 AM

When I see those ads on t.v., after they state all the possible side effects, I end up wondering why anyone would take them. Most seem to fix one problem while having the ability to create another, possibly larger health problem. We do seem to live in a society that has a take a pill and whatever ails you will be fixed attitude, a lot of times, controlling the symtoms but not finding, let alone fixing what causes the symtoms

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Feb. 5, 2013 at 8:56 PM

BUMP!

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 8:58 PM

New drugs have always been tested on troops and on prisoners. Who knows what concoctions they are giving these guys. 

SRUsarahSC
by Bronze Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:01 PM
2 moms liked this

my husband has some PTSD and adjustment issues after returning from deployment. I do feel like the VA, due to being understaffed, pushes meds more than therapy. He refused medication for several years, he did finally agree to one, and he does feel like it's helping him--but he still insists on therapy as well.  You've also got to look at the age range--men from 18-30 have higher rates across the board, military or not. The unemployment rates among veterans also remains high, leading to depression.  My husband and I's friend and his ROTC classmate in college was unable to cope and left us within a year of returning home from deployment.  We need to do more to help our service members.

sherry132
by Silver Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:02 PM
1 mom liked this

Try living with someone who has a Traumatic Brain Injury, Diagnosed severe PTSD. Five years of therapy. Five years of fighting to come back, only to be told he never fully will. 

Those drugs offer many hope. They bring some peace and normalcy. They are not willy nilly prescribed, and from experience, those doctors care and watch while they are on those drugs. 

I live in a life of where I panic if he gets down to five pills. More than likely, the problem isn't the drug, but the person taking the pills. Either that person is not following the scripts, stopping the drugs all together, or not going to the follow up appointments. 

There are many many factors involved. No one can sum it up in a 1500 word article. You have to live this to understand it. 

PinkButterfly66
by Gold Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:06 PM
1 mom liked this

I don't think PTSD is being treated like it should be.  There are soldiers that are not getting treated at all for it.  Then there are brain traumas that are not being treated at all. Look at the suicides in the NFL haven't every one of them suffered head traumas?

sherry132
by Silver Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:11 PM

They can get treatment, half the problem is that they refuse to see there is a problem to begin with. 

We've just completed five years (almost 6) of dealing with a TBI and PTSD and the military, VA, treatment system. Not once was he turned away from any treatment. Not once did we hear, "He's ok" and dismiss the problem. Every time we went to the doctor, he received treatment. But first the soldier has to say "I have a problem". 

Also, for Vets, there is a period of time they must go to the VA and process in, if they choose not too, they lose that valuable assistance because it could be other factors that are now causing the problem.

Every soldier can get help. There have been tons of improvements in that area alone. 

Quoting PinkButterfly66:

I don't think PTSD is being treated like it should be.  There are soldiers that are not getting treated at all for it.  Then there are brain traumas that are not being treated at all. Look at the suicides in the NFL haven't every one of them suffered head traumas?


krysstizzle
by on Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Sounds like soldiers are being used as lab rats for medications. 

Sick. 

purpleducky
by Silver Member on Feb. 5, 2013 at 11:11 PM

I think it is more of people not properly prescribing meds and that is the problem, simply.

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