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

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Myopia Of The Business News

Listening to the business news is a bit like eavesdropping on the radio transmissions from space aliens. There is no discernible connection between the concerns of the captains of these space ships – the bank economists and the finance house spokesmen – and the concerns of ordinary listeners back on Planet Earth. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Clinton, Sanders, Trump And Cruz

Come November, the world will have a new US president-elect and the least unlikely winner still looks to be Hillary Clinton. Right now though, the polls are showing a rocky stretch ahead for her in the immediate future. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Sean Penn And El Chapo - Vanity, Hollywood And Reportage

Leaving aside Sean Penn’s personal history with drug use, let alone alleged efforts to get a slice of celebrity in portraying a drug lord, the furore surrounding his interview with El Chapo is instructive in a few respects. One is worth noting: the blind rage it has provoked with some US political figures and advocates who show how utterly lacking in understanding they are of their own liberal market system... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Podemos, And Spain’s Election Stalemate

By hard grassroots effort, it convincingly rejected the fragmented, individualising forces that had shaped political life for the past few decades – instead, it organized its supporters on the basis of their common, communal experience via collective decision-making aimed at rolling back (a) the austerity-driven cutbacks in public services and (b) the home evictions of those unable to meet their mortgage payments. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Merkel, Refugees And The Cologne Attacks

Huge pressure was already on Angela Merkel’s shoulders prior to the New Year celebrations. When it came in its waves of chaos on the eve, the security services in Cologne were found wanting. The police document from Cologne, leaked to Der Spiegel, speaks of chaos and lack of control. More>>

NZ Media In 2015: ‘Digital First’ Strategies Put Journalists Last

Journalism in New Zealand is threatened by the constant culling of editorial jobs and current affairs programmes… Additionally, journalists investigating issues which are in public interest have become under scrutiny as seen most clearly in the cases of Nicky Hager and Heather Du-Plessis Allen. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news