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Are Soldiers Suicides Caused by Prescription Drugs?

By       Message Martha Rosenberg       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   24 comments

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The suicide rate among troops is astonishing.

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In 2009 there were 160 active duty suicides, 239 suicides within the total Army including the Reserves, 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.

Not only are more troops dying from their own hand than combat says the Army report, titled Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention, 36 percent of the suicides were troops who were never deployed.

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Also astonishing is the psychoactive drug rate among active duty-aged troops, 18 to 34, which is up 85 percent since 2003 according to the military health plan, Tricare. Since 2001, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft have been dispensed, 38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil and 12,047 for Cymbalta says Tricare 2009 data, which includes family prescriptions. All of the drugs carry a suicide warning label.

In addition to the leap in SSRI antidepressants, prescriptions for the anticonvulsants Topamax and Neurontin rose 56 percent in the same group since 2005 says Navy Times, drugs which the FDA warned last year double suicidal thinking in patients.

In fact 4,994 troops at Fort Bragg are on antidepressants right now says the Fayetteville Observer. Six hundred and sixty-four are on an antipsychotics and "many soldiers take more than one type of medication."

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Troops may also be taking Chantix, an antismoking drug so linked to violence and self-harm Secretary of the VA, James Peake was forced to defend its use before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in 2008 even in drug trials . "If you know the drug induces suicidal thoughts," an unappeased Committee chair Bob Filner D-Ca. asked Rep. Filner," Why don't you just stop?"

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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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