Death by suicide is at record levels in the armed services. Simultaneously the use of antidepressant drugs is also at record levels, including brand names like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Lexapro.
According to the army, in 2007 17% of combat troops in Afghanistan were taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills. Inside sources have given me an even bleaker picture: During Vietnam, a mere 1% our troops were taking prescribed psychiatric drugs. By contrast, in the past year one-third of marines in combat zones were taking psychiatric drugs.
Are the pills helping? The army confirms that since 2002 the number of suicide attempts has increased six-fold. And more than 128 soldiers killed themselves last year.