Suicide Syndrome

Why are suicides among Iraq war soldiers twice that of other wars?

One reason could be that 80 percent of troops with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are given drugs that didn’t exist during other wars.

Antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs) and Cymbalta and Effexor (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors or SRNIs) that are so closely associated with suicide they carry suicide warnings.

660 people have killed themselves on SSRIs and SNRIs since1988 according to published newspaper reports including at least 17 Iraq war veterans. Many more have attempted suicide and committed felonies, self-harm, police stand-offs, murders, murder/suicides and mass murders with high powered weapons.

Yet what does the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ suggest as a treatment for PTSD?

“We recommend SSRIs as first line medications for PTSD pharmacotherapy in men and women with military-related PTSD,” says the VA’s National Center for PSTD’s Iraq War Clinician Guide, 2nd Edition. “Findings from subsequent large-scale trials with paroxetine [Paxil] have demonstrated that SSRI treatment is clearly effective both for men in general and for combat veterans suffering with PTSD.”

In fact of veterans treated for PTSD, 89 percent were given antidepressants and 34 percent antipsychotics according to an article in the June 2008 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

While scientific studies continue to confirm the danger of SSRI use in young and/or bipolar patients–a January 2009 Journal of Affective Disorders article by VA authors recommends “close monitoring” for suicide for 12 weeks “following antidepressant starts” when risk greatly rises–another voice says it’s not what it looks like.

“Suicide attempt rates were lower among patients who were treated with antidepressants than among those who were not,” says an article in the July 2007 American Journal of Psychiatry [Relationship Between Antidepressants and Suicide Attempts: An Analysis of the Veterans Health Administration Data Sets] by Robert Gibbons, director of the Center for Health Statistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “These findings suggest that SSRI treatment has a protective effect in all adult age groups. They do not support the hypothesis that SSRI treatment places patients at greater risk of suicide.”

This is not the only time Gibbons has gone to bat for the controversial antidepressants.

In an article called “Early Evidence on the Effects of Regulators’ Suicidality Warnings on SSRI Prescriptions and Suicide in Children and Adolescents,” in the September 2007 American Journal of Psychiatry, he indicted “black box” suicide warnings that the FDA mandated in 2004 for a national rise in young peoples’ suicides. Why? Because the warnings discouraged doctors from prescribing SSRIs!

Of course the “SSRI deficiency” argument is as insipid as blaming the obesity epidemic on the unavailability of fen phen. But many joined Gibbons in the round of big pharma “I-Told-You-Sos” including Charles Nemeroff of Emory University School of Medicine who was later disgraced for undisclosed pharma conflict of interests.

Unfortunately Gibbons was wrong. The suicide stats he analyzed did not yet reflect the effect of the black box warnings and he ended up having to tell the New York Times the “early evidence” was actually not evidence at all but “suggestive.” Oops.

Worse, Zoloft maker Pfizer contributed $30,000 to the article bellyflop writes Alison Bass, author of Side Effects: A Best-selling Drug on Trial, in the Boston Globe. Not much Return on Investment there.

Of course it should come as no surprise–except to journal editors– that Gibbons is financially linked to Effexor maker Wyeth, now Pfizer and that his second author John Mann is linked to Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

A bigger surprise is that Gibbons is rolling in tax payer funded grants from the National Institute of Mental Health including some to study antidepressants and suicide.

What firewalls are in place to keep pharma “science” from becoming government science, promoting deadly pills?

What protects US tax payers, public health monies–and most importantly our veterans?

MARTHA ROSENBERG can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It