Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


US Govt Suicide Initiative Ignores Suicide-Linked Drugs

US Government Suicide Initiative Ignores Suicide-Linked Drugs

by Martha Rosenberg
September 18, 2012

It would be laughable if it weren't tragic. Last week US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin introduced a plan to stem the nation's growing suicide rate without addressing the nation's growing use of suicide-linked drugs.

Antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil, antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa and anti-seizure drugs like Lyrica and Neurontin are all linked to suicide in published reports and in FDA warnings. (Almost 5,000 newspaper reports link antidepressants to suicide, homicide and bizarre behavior.) Asthma drugs like Singulair, antismoking drugs like Chantix, acne drugs like Accutane and the still-in-use malaria drug Lariam, are also linked to suicide.

The US's suicide rate has risen to 38,000 a year, says USA Today, after falling in the 1990s. The rise correlates with the debut of direct-to-consumer drug advertising in the late 1990s, the approval of many drugs with suicide links and more people taking psychoactive drugs for lifestyle problems.

Dr. Benjamin announced that federal grants totaling $55 million will save 20,000 lives in the next five years through suicide hotlines, more mental health workers in the VA, better depression screening and Facebook tracking of suicidal messages. Nowhere, including in the suicide-racked military, does she suggest looking at the overmedication which has gone hand-in-hand with the deaths. A month earlier, it was announced the Army has awarded $3 million to a scientist to develop a thyroid related nasal spray to combat suicidal thoughts, also ignoring overmedication.

Suicide increased more than 150 percent in the Army and more than 50 percent in the Marine Corps between 2001 to 2009, reported Military Times displaying graphs of the suicide and prescription drug increases, in a print edition, that are similar enough to be laid over one another. 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.

Eighty-nine percent of troops with posttraumatic 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. What?

Nor is the suicide rate going down as troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. In July, 2012, there were 38 Army suicides says USA Today and in July of 2011, there were 32. According to the Army's in-depth Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Report in 2010, 36 percent of the troops who killed themselves had never even deployed.

Why are such drugs, which affect reaction time, motor skills, coordination, attention and memory even allowed during active duty? And why are they prescribed to soldiers who are at the exact age--young adults--that is most at risk for suicide according to warning labels?

Nor are troops the only cash cows for Big Pharma. One in four women are on psychoactive drugs according to published reports and millions of children are on psychoactive drugs, especially poor and those with disability status.

When the FDA first put suicide warnings on antidepressants for young people in the mid 2000s, Big Pharma linked psychiatrists like Charles Nemeroff argued that suicides would go up if doctors and patients were scared off by the black box warnings. Though the argument was absurd--is the nation fat because fen-phen was withdrawn?--the theory got play in the mainstream and medical press until it was proven wrong.

Yet as the Surgeon General and HHS proved this week, the government is still in denial about suicide and the elephant in the room called Big Pharma. Instead of spending millions on counselors, crisis lines, and "awareness campaigns" why doesn't it look at the millions it's spending on suicide-linked drugs?

*************

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

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

David Swanson: Torture Is Mainstream Now

As Rebecca Gordon notes in her new book, Mainstreaming Torture, polls find greater support in the United States for torture now than when Bush was president. And it's not hard to see why that would be the case. More>>

Uri Avnery: In One Word: Poof!

Poor John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble. In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Poverty Incentive: Making The Poor Carry The Refugee Can

The poorer you are, the more likely you need to shoulder more. This axiomatic rule of social intercourse, engagement and daily living is simple and brutal enough: the poor shall hold, conserve, preserve. More>>

Nureddin Sabir: BBC Misreports John Kerry On Talks Failure

For once, US Secretary of State John Kerry was not mincing his words when he blamed Israel for the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians. But you would not have known this if you were following the story from the BBC News website. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Narendra Modi, And The Elections In India

On the upside, the gigantic election process that began yesterday in India is the largest exercise in democracy on the planet. Reportedly, a staggering five million people are employed, directly or indirectly, in the election process. The likely outcome is not quite so welcome... More>>

ALSO:

Ramzy Baroud: Kerry’s Looming Deadline And The Peace Process Industry

As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. More>>

Harvey Wasserman: Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem. The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor ... More>>

Shobha Shukla: Rise In Global Health Financing, But Funding Priorities Shift

A new research done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), at the University of Washington, indicates that globally the total development assistance for health (DAH) hit an all-time high of $31.3 billion in 2013 (a year-over-year ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
TEDxAuckland
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news