Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Increased Suicide Rates in Military Personnel

According to the Armed Service Reports, there was an average of five suicides attempts per day in 2008 or 2,100 attempted suicides, versus 350 suicide attempts in 2002. Most of these were failed suicides with 128 soldiers taking their own lives. In 2007 the Army listed 89 soldier deaths as suicides and this number will likely increase once all the data is in. The suicide rates in 2006 were 102, compared to 87 deaths in 2005. At the same time the Army indicates that in 2007 there was a seventeen percent increase in antidepressant and sleeping pill prescriptions for military personnel in combat.
The Army has indicated via news sources that longer tours of duty, estrangement from family, and their stressful situation play a role. We will not argue with the fact combat life is very difficult, but if you combine these factors with a fully trained soldier and the side effects of antidepressants such as: "anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, hostility, insomnia, irritability, impulsivity, panic attacks, thoughts of suicide and mania" then the situation compounds itself. The Armed Services has created this new policy of prescribing antidepressants as a less expensive means to treat stressed out combat troops. It is far cheaper then to send troops home for R&R, shorter tours, and longer term counseling. The policy change is costing self inflicted losses.
There is certainly a direct connection between antidepressants and suicide. It is clearly written as the FDA “Black Box” warning on all of these psychotropic drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Effexor, and Lexapro have a suicide risk. There appears to be no connection that these drugs prevent suicide or relieve depression. Studies have shown that a placebo has the same effect as these medications. The drug companies advertise that depression is a chemical imbalance, yet that is exactly what these drugs do to the victim users. They alter the natural chemical balance of the person and the true long term effects of this alteration are unknown.
Based on the recent statistics the military suicide rates will increase if the policy remains the same. The Defense Department spends billions on equipment and technology perhaps it can spend a little more quality time with its troops and address their internal enemy within, the mind altering psychotropic drugs.

No comments: