It has been just over a week since Memorial Day parties and barbecues, however, the pain and suffering of a veteran can live on for a lifetime. Data indicates that every 65 minutes, a veteran takes his or her own life. It is a sensitive issue, but the government is finally getting involved. Legislation has been recently introduced that addresses the relationship between psychiatric drugs and the role they play in the increased number of veteran suicides. Are serious side effects caused by psychiatric drugs to blame for these deaths?
Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide. One in six American service members takes at least one form of psychiatric drug. Finally, a legislative study will look into a possible correlation between medical treatments for service-related conditions our veterans are receiving and the rate of veteran suicides.
From 2005 to 2011, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration increased its prescriptions of psychiatric drugs by almost 700 percent. That is more than 30 times faster than the noncombatant rate, in less than ten years.
After returning home from a life-altering environment, veterans often develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. The Veterans Administration has found that 80 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD were prescribed psychiatric drugs. Of these, 89 percent were antidepressant medications. It is also important to note that antidepressants contain the FDA’s black box warning for causing suicide for users younger than the age of 25, the age range of 41 percent of deployed American soldiers. Antidepressant’s side effects can include abnormal behavior, hostility, anxiety, and mania.
Congress is further hoping this study will not only address the possible causes of suicides among veterans, but also shed light on the violent and homicidal behavior exhibited by a growing amount of service personnel and veterans.
Veterans who suffer from PTSD are often prescribed drugs like Ambien or Trazodone (antidepressant drugs) or Risperidone (an antipsychotic drug). One Iraq veteran who has been accused of killing six family members had been receiving mental health services and taking both Trazodone and Risperidone in combination.
We can no longer ignore these facts. The FDA’s MedWatch adverse drug event reporting system unveils that between 2004 and 2012, the federal agency received over 14,000 reports on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects. Many service personnel and veterans take multiple different psychiatric drugs at once, even though the vast majority of these psychiatric drugs have never been studied in combination and most of these drug combinations have never been approved by national drug regulatory agencies.
The Congressional review will include:
• The total number of veterans who died by suicide during the proposed five-year period;
• A summary of the veterans’ age, gender, and race;
• A list of the medications they were prescribed to, and found in their systems at the time of their deaths;
• A synopsis of the veterans’ medical diagnosis by VA physicians that led to the prescription of these medications;
• The number of times the veteran was on multiple medications prescribed by VA physicians;
• The amount of veterans not taking medication prescribed by a VA physician;
• The amount of veterans with combat experience or trauma;
• Veterans Health Administration services with high prescription and patient suicide rates;
• An account of VA policies overseeing the prescribing of medications; and
• A summary of VA’s recommendations to improve the safety and well-being of veterans
Veterans and service members have survived painful, unimaginable, and life-changing experiences. Their pain and suffering is real and needs to be taken seriously. Mental health is not black and white, and our veterans deserve proper attention and care. This legislation could be life-saving.
If you or a loved one is taking one of these drugs to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are concerned about possible side effects, please consult with your doctor regarding the potential risks. It is also important to find legal representation if you have suffered any serious adverse side effects. Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman are experienced personal injury attorneys in Central New York, and we will help you stand up to the physician or pharmaceutical company that may have caused you or others harm as a result of being prescribed antidepressants or antipsychotic drugs. Contact the lawyers at Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman for a free consultation today.
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