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General News    H2'ed 8/1/10

Army Suicide Report Ignores Suicide-Causing Drugs

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Why are troops killing themselves?

The long awaited Army report, "Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention" considers the economy, the stress of nine years of war, family dislocations, repeated moves, repeated deployments, troops' risk-taking personalities, waived entrance standards and many aspects of Army culture.

What it barely considers is the suicide-inked antidepressants, antipsychotics and antiseizure drugs whose use exactly parallels the increase in US troop suicides since 2005.

In the report Chief of Staff General Peter W. Chiarelli acknowledges antidepressant risks, saying there's "fair quality evidence that second generation antidepressants (mostly SSRI) increase suicidal behavior in adults aged 18 to 29 years" but adds that "other research evidence shows the benefit of antidepressant use".

And nowhere does he acknowledge the suicide potential of antiseizure drugs so widely used for pain and as "mood stabilizers" by troops even though the FDA mandated suicide warnings on Lyrica, Topamaz, Depakote, Lamictal, Tegretol, Depakene, Klonopin and 16 others in 2008.

(Lamictal also has the distinction of wasting more taxpayer money than any other drug according to a July American Enterprise Institute report. Medicaid spent an unnecessary $51 million on Lamictal instead of buying a generic last year, thanks to GSK salesmen. You go, guys,)

When asked by NPR's Robert Siegel if the high number of medicated troops contributed to suicide, Gen. Chiarelli said, "The good thing about those numbers is...the prescriptions were all made by a doctor." Asked why troops who had not even deployed were among the suicides, Chiarelli said there were other stressors involved.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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