Senator: Study prescriptions-suicide link

By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Jul 23, 2009 11:32:42 EDT

The Senate on Wednesday ordered an independent study to determine whether an increase in military suicides could be the result of sending troops into combat while they are taking antidepressants or sleeping pills.  Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., who pushed for the study, said he does not know whether there is a link, but he believes prescription drug use, especially when it is not closely supervised by medical personnel, needs a closer look.  “One thing we should all be concerned about is that there are more and more of our soldiers who are using prescription antidepressant drugs … and we are not clear as to whether they are under appropriate medical supervision,” Cardin said.  The problem, he said, is that some antidepressants “take several weeks before they reach their full potential,” and during that time there is a risk of increased suicidal thoughts among 18- to 24-year-olds — an age group that includes many service members.   When people taking antidepressants are deployed, they may not be under close medical supervision, especially if they are in a unit that is on the move in combat, Cardin said.


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