The Epoch Times, November 1, 2010
by Martha Rosenberg
The suicide rate among U.S. troops is astonishing.
In 2009 there were 239 suicides within the Army, including the Reserves, 160 active duty suicides, 146 active duty deaths from drug overdoses and high-risk behavior, and 1,713 suicide attempts, says the Army’s suicide report released in July.
More troops are dying from their own hands than in combat, says the Army report, titled “Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention.” Thirty-six percent of the suicides were among troops who were never deployed.
Also astonishing is the psychoactive prescription drug rate among active duty-aged troops, aged 18 to 34, which is up 85 percent since 2003, according to the military health plan, Tricare. Including family prescriptions, since 2001, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft have been dispensed, 38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil, and 12,047 for Cymbalta. All of the drugs carry a suicide-warning label.
In addition to the spike in SSRI antidepressant prescriptions, prescriptions for the anticonvulsants Topamax and Neurontin rose 56 percent in the same group since 2005, says Navy Times. The FDA warned last year that taking these drugs doubles suicidal thinking.
In fact, 4,994 troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., are on antidepressants right now, says the Fayetteville Observer. Six hundred and sixty-four are on an antipsychotic and “many soldiers take more than one type of medication.”
Troops may also be taking Chantix, an antismoking drug so linked to violence and self-harm that Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake was forced to defend its use before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in 2008 even in drug trials. Related Articles
“If you know the drug induces suicidal thoughts,” an unappeased committee chair Bob Filner, D-Calif., asked Rep. Filner, “Why don’t you just stop [prescribing it]?”
The FDA says that even widely prescribed asthma drugs like Singulair and Advair are linked to suicide and have been cited in young people’s deaths.
Who knows what happens when the drugs are mixed with mood stabilizers, insomnia meds, pain pills, anti-anxiety drugs, and antipsychotic pills? These drug combinations have never been tested for safety.
Links between suicide and even murder-suicide and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) antidepressants have been long recognized.
Traci Johnson, a healthy 19-year-old with no mental problems, hung herself during Lilly trials of Cymbalta in the drugmaker’s own clinic in 2004. Columbine shooter Eric Harris had reportedly just switched from Zoloft to Luvox.
Red Lake shooter Jeff Weise who killed 10 on a Minnesota Native American reservation in 2005 had just upped his Prozac dose. And the Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, was also on psychoactive medications, say news reports.
Even though Americans have doubled their antidepressants since 1999 so that 10 percent of the population or 27 million now take them, suicides have climbed by 5 percent since 1999 and 16 percent in middle-aged adults, says an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2008.
In fact, the high percentage of civilian suicides on psychoactive drugs is probably the clearest indication that military life is not the only cause of the shocking troop suicides.
In September alone, there were 18 civilian suicides, 11 murders, 2 murder-suicides, and other violence linked to people who were using or had used antidepressants, according to published reports. (Ssristories.com/index.php?sort=what&p=recent)
A 54-year-old patient with a breathing tube and an oxygen tank and no previous criminal record held up a bank in Mobile, Ala. She had gone off her antidepressants.
An enraged man in Australia, also off his antidepressants, chased his mailman and threatened to cut his throat for bringing him junk mail.
A 58-year-old Amarillo, Texas, man with no criminal history tried to abduct three people, killing an Oklahoma grandmother in the process. He had “an antidepressant in his blood,” said police.
Also in the 30-day period, a 60-year-old grandmother in Seattle killed three family members and herself; a disc jockey in Bristol, U.K., set himself on fire; and a man in Exeter, U.K., was found to have stabbed himself in the heart. All were on antidepressants.
Finally, in the month of September, legal proceedings began against two mothers and a father charged with killing their own children.
Over 4,000 published reports of violent and bizarre behavior of people affected by antidepressants on the Web archive ssristories.com reveal the same out-of-character violence and self-harm in civilians that is currently seen in the military.
Twenty people set themselves on fire. Ten bit their victims (including a biter who was sleepwalking and a woman, on Prozac, who bit her 87-year-old mother into a critical condition.) Three men in the 70s and 80s attacked their wives with hammers.
Many stabbed their victims obsessively—one even stabbed furniture after killing his wife—and 14 parents drowned their children, a crime seldom heard of before the 2001 Andrea Yates case. Yates, who drowned her five children, was on the antidepressant Effexor, which manufacturer Wyeth (now Pfizer) “issued no public warning” about [the possibility of violent behavior], says the Associated Press.
Then there was the North Carolina pilot on Zoloft who sang “I’m going down for the last time” into the cockpit voice recorder before he crashed his plane in June. And the mayor of Coppell, Texas, Jayne Peters, who killed herself and her daughter in July over the grief of losing her husband. Police found antidepressants at the home.
Such murder-suicides committed by women used to be rare, says Betty Henderson the ssristories.com moderator and researcher. “Before the SSRI antidepressants, women committed 5 percent of the murder-suicides, and now they account for almost 15 percent of this type of violence,” she said in an interview.
Antidepressants are also causing women to become sexual predators, says Henderson. “There have been more than a dozen recent cases of women school teachers molesting their young students under the influence or withdrawal of antidepressants. Who heard of this type of sexual aberration before the antidepressant craze?”
Why don’t doctors and media outlets publicize the names of these volatile drugs?
“It’s a good question,” said Dr. Gary Kohls, a Minnesota family practitioner, in an op-ed written after Iraq veteran Matthew Magdzas killed his pregnant wife, their 13-month-old daughter, their dogs, and himself in Wisconsin in August.
“Nobody in the media has, to my knowledge, had the courage to report what the drugs were, nor have they interviewed the physician or his clinic to find out the rationale for prescribing drugs that have common violence-inducing effects (with black box warnings stating that in the prescribing information),” he writes. “Therefore nothing has been learned from this important teachable moment, probably because revealing the common reality of prescription drug-induced violence would be economically harmful for the sacred cows of Big Pharma and Big Medicine.”
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., called the fact that one of every six troops are now on psychoactive drugs “pretty astounding and also very troubling,” in Senate hearings this year.
Retired Col. Bart Billings, a former Army psychologist who has also testified before Congress, says, “I feel flat-out that psychiatrists are directly responsible for deaths in our military, for some of these suicides,” in a March Marine Times article. “I think it’s criminal, what they are doing.”
Even Katie Bagosy, the wife of Marine Sgt. Tom Bagosy, who took his own life in May, indicts the Neurontin medication he was prescribed for his downfall.
“He told me, ‘It all started to get worse when I got on this medication.’ Looking back, that was the beginning of the end,” she says in an article called “A Prescription for Tragedy” in the current National Journal.