Investigate Role of Psychoactive Drugs in Soldiers’ Suicide Rates

Target: U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin

Goal: To critically examine the role of suicide-linked psychoactive drugs in the increasing rates of suicide amongst U.S. service members.

The Pentagon recently reported that there were 349 suicides amongst active-duty service members in 2012, a rate that is higher than the number of deaths in combat. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that 85 percent of the service members were never in combat. In the last ten years, the rate of suicide within the armed forces has been steadily rising, and while there are many contributing factors to blame—post traumatic stress disorder, inadequate mental health services for returning soldiers and the like—one culprit has gone largely unexamined by the Pentagon, Surgeon General, and military psychiatrists: pharmaceuticals with side effects of suicide.

In 2010, the Military Times reported one in six service members was on a psychoactive drug, with many of them taking a daily ‘cocktail’ of drugs that often include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-epileptics. Most of the various combinations of drugs have not be adequately researched or tested, resulting in risky and sometimes fatal personal experiments for thousands of soldiers. Even if the psychoactive drug is taken individually there could still be dangerous side effects including attempts of suicide, depression, and anxiety. The average television viewer could even tell you which drugs are linked to these side effects—Prozac, Paxil, Chantix, Zoloft—due to the endless stream of advertising from pharmaceutical companies.

The relentless advertising is, in fact, one of the reasons these dangerous drugs are being increasingly prescribed to service members as well as millions of Americans, even for minor symptoms such as headaches. There are also clear conflicts of interest between members of the Food and Drug Administration who have a financial stake in the quick approval of these drugs, as well as military psychiatrists who happen to be consultants for Big Pharma. Sign the petition below to tell Surgeon General Regina Benjamin that the prescriptions of suicide-linked psychoactives within the military must be critically examined. The lives of our nation’s service members may very well depend upon it.


Dear Surgeon General Regina Benjamin,

The increasing rate of suicide amongst our nation’s service members is alarming to say the least. What may be even more shocking, however, is the fact that 85 percent of the 349 service members who committed suicide last year never saw combat. Depression and attempts of suicide amongst soldiers is often attributed to issues such as post traumatic stress disorder and inadequate mental health services for veterans. While these factors should certainly be addressed, what about the service members who were never in combat, yet still committed suicide?

In 2010, the Military Times reported one in six service members was on a psychoactive drug with many of them taking a daily ‘cocktail’ of drugs that often include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-epileptics. Many of these combinations have failed to be adequately researched and tested, and it is no secret that depression, anxiety, and suicide are common side effects of many psychoactives, even when the drugs are taken individually.

With more and more service members being prescribed these potentially lethal drugs—sometimes for even minor symptoms—and the growing number of suicides in the armed forces, it is imperative that the reasons behind the prescriptions, the various drug ‘cocktails,’ and the drugs themselves be researched and critically assessed. Our country’s service members should not be subjected to the politics of the FDA and conflicts of interest with Big Pharma. We ask that you initiate an investigation regarding the role of suicide-linked psychoactives in the rates of suicide amongst service members.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: RambergMedialImages via Flickr

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44 Signatures

  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
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  • Darlene Roepke
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