Myles Eckert, 9, Teaches The World a Lesson in Kindness We Desperately Need to Learn

myles eckert

Myles Eckert

This is so much better than INCREDIBLY AMAZING!
An update on the story of little Myles Eckert, 9, who who found $20.00 and gave it to a soldier instead of spending it on himself because the soldier reminded him of his dad who died in Iraq. The boy didn’t realize his investment in kindness would yield such a great return.

View this video to see what the world could learn from the example of this little boy … I have long advocated we could use something similar for all the children who have lost a parent to antidepressant-induced suicide or homicide!

http://nethugs.com/inspirational/stories/ohio-boys-gift-to-soldier/

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,

International Coalition for Drug Awareness

www.drugawareness.org & http://ssristories.drugawareness.org
Author: ”Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

WITHDRAWAL WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

WITHDRAWAL HELP: You can find the hour and a half long CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: http://store.drugawareness.org/ And if you need additional consultations with Ann Blake-Tracy, you can book one at www.drugawareness.org or sign up for one of the memberships for the International Coalition for Drug Awareness which includes free consultations as one of the benefits of that particular membership plan.

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My horrible experience with antidepressants [zoloft]

iStock_police-line-crime-scene-tape_20120323112925_640_480My horrible experience with antidepressants
Long Van Phung lphung86@yahoo.com

I was in the marines from 2005-2009 as infantry and went on two combat deployments to Iraq. I was having a rough time after my second deployment and was put on so many different antidepressants that seemed to do nothing at all. I received were empty promises of feeling better in 4-6 weeks. After a honorable discharge I began going to the Veterans Association where I was prescribed zoloft within 5 minutes of speaking with a phychitrist. It made me feel worse so I researched online and read many horror stories about zoloft. It was about 2 weeks later I told the doctor I felt worse and he told me it was the zoloft giving me more energy and making me anxious. I was working hard to get into the University of Delaware and was accepted but on September 3rd 2010 after breaking down crying I became completely focused on killing myself and surrounded by police outside the Veterans Association hospital I shot myself in the forehead point blank with a 9mm hollow point round. Although it sounds ridiculous I was able to still get out of my car and walk towards the police with the gun still in my hands (I was in total shock, just trying to wipe all the blood out of my eyes) and was tasered, and I remember face planting into the ground. It was a horrifying recovery and I’m still traumatized(I have a artificial piece of skull and severe left side weakness from the brain damage) and I had a extremely difficult experience weening off cymbalta recently after many failed attempts because the company makes it nearly impossible to get off the medication because the sizes of the doses. I had to have a friend help me by taking apart the capsules and lowering by less then a percent a day of cymbalta. Still I suffered terrible withdrawl effects. Phychitrist are basically the tools of pharmaceutical companies that repeat what pharma reps tell them (chemical imbalance, it’s like having diabetis) to get as many people as possible to take there drugs which are highly overrated in there effectiveness and underrated in the severity of withdrawl(or “discontinuation syndrome” since that sounds much more pleasant). I know I’m incredible lucky to be alive but people simply don’t understand how difficult each day is. I get agonizing headaches and I just can’t let go of what happened. I wish so badly that I had never started zoloft our trusted the Veterans Association phychitrist and the generic lines he says to get victims to start taking these terrible drugs. I don’t care much for myself but it bothers me so much that they are pushing these very powerful drugs on younger and younger children to make lifetime customers and increase profits.

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AUSTIN STATESMAN – UNCOUNTED CASUALTIES: IRAQ VETS: HOME, BUT NOT SAFE

Scores of recent Texas war veterans have died of overdoses, suicide and vehicle crashes, investigation finds

1 jwj Dead Veterans day1 drugs[1]

Daniel Pilgrim, 12 , and his grandparents Randy and Judy Pilgrim visit the grave of Daniel’s father, Lance.

10 jwj Dead Veterans day1 drugs[1]

Kimberly Mitchell weeps at the grave of her husband, Chad Mitchell, who died of an accidental prescription drug overdose.

The Austin Statesman ran an incredibly well done & way overdue article today on what is happening to our veterans!!! True investigative reporting – something I thought had died an untimely death in this country! Thank you Austin Stateman!

For the past 20 years I have directed the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, www.drugawareness.org, to track these cases because so many are directly related to the massive use of antidepressants by our military. We have many cases documented in a database put together by our Texas Director which you can find at www.SSRIstories.com

Suicide, homicide, alcoholism & REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

These drugs are being given to a population generally within the age group (under 25) who the FDA has warned has double the chance of suicide if they take an antidepressant. They are dying in their sleep due to interactions between antidepressants & pain killers, or becoming alcoholic as antidepressants produce overwhelming cravings for alcohol. We have been seeing far too many veterans come home & commit murder/suicide on these drugs, or commit mass murders. Many remain unaware that antidepressants have not just suicidal ideation as an increased side effect, but also homicidal ideation. Ideation is constant ruminating thoughts or almost a compulsion … so these are increased compulsions or thoughts that will not be quieted about either killing themselves or others or both. They are even more dangerous for veterans because of the fact that 86% of those diagnosed with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, where you act out nightmares in a sleepwalk state – some driving many miles to kill others, are those taking antidepressants. Anyone knows that someone recently returning from war is going to have nightmares worse than most. The problems due to meds are absolutely staggering.

Eric Harris unqualified for military service due to antidepressant use

All of this is absolutely insane when you see the changes in policy from just over a decade ago when anyone on one of these drugs would be turned away from the military because they did not want someone on a mind altering drug (especially those that can produce suicide, homicide & paranoia) carrying a gun in a war situation. The use of an antidepressant is why Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, was turned down by the military in 1999. Seeing the extreme dangers can be made obvious in the case of Sgt. John Michael Russel of Sherman while having a toxic reaction to his antidepressant opened fire at a mental health clinic in Iraq killing 5 fellow soldiers. And as more comes out in similar cases we will see these drugs were involved in them as well.

Stan White, a father with a mission

Stan White is a father who has been fighting to get the truth out about what these drugs are doing to our troops. He lost one son in combat & the other to a medication interaction after he returned home. I would hope that families contact him & join together to put an end to this nightmare. You are welcome to find him as one of my friends on Facebook if you cannot find him otherwise.

www.statesman.com/news/news/local-military/texas-war-veteran-deaths-studied/nSPJs/

To read a more extensive report on this problem following are the follow-up stories in the Austin Statesman:

Loved ones cope with veterans’ suicides

Uncounted Casualties: Part II

_______________________________________

Prescription drug abuse, overdoses haunt veterans seeking relief from physical, mental pain

_____________________________________

Which veterans are at highest risk for suicide?

_______________________________________

Suicide among veterans receiving less attention than active-duty deaths

Many family members noticed dramatic changes in their loved ones after they returned from the war and before committing suicide.

_________________________________________

After returning home, many veterans get into motor vehicle accidents

Some say risky driving is related to their time spent overseas.

______________________________________________

About the Author: Ann Blake-Tracy is the author of PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?, and the director of the International Coalition For Drug Awareness [www.drugawareness.org]. She has testified before the FDA and testifies as an expert in legal cases involving serotonergic medications.

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,

International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org & www.SSRIstories.com
Author: “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Safe Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

BOOK: Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare! Anything you ever wanted to know about antidepressants is there along with everything drug companies hope you never find out about these drugs. SAFE WITHDRAWAL CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!” on how to safely withdraw from antidepressants & most psychiatric medications is saving lives! Available at www.drugawareness.org

BOOK TESTIMONIALS:

“VERY BOLD AND INFORMATIVE”

“PRICELESS INFORMATION THAT IS GIVING ME BACK TO ME”

“THE ABSOLUTE BEST REFERENCE FOR ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS”

“WELL DOCUMENTED & SCIENTIFICALLY RESEARCHED”

“I was stunned at the amount of research Ann Blake-Tracy has done on this subject. Few researchers go to as much trouble aggressively gathering information on the adverse reactions of Prozac, Zoloft and other SSRIs.”

WITHDRAWAL HELP CD TESTIMONIALS:

“Ann, I just wanted to let you know from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am God placed you in my life. I am now down to less than 2 mg on my Cymbalta and I have never felt better. I am finally getting my life back. I can feel again and colors have never been brighter. Thanks for all that you do!!” … Amber Weber

“Used your method of weaning off of SSRI’s and applied it to Ambien. Took 6 months but had been on 15 mg for years so what was another 6 months. I have been sleeping without it for 2 weeks and it is the first time I have been able to sleep drug free for 15 years. What a relief to be able to lay down and sleep when I need or want to. Ambien may be necessary for people at times but doctors giving a months worth of it at a time with unlimited refills is a prescription for disaster. It is so damn easy to become dependent on. Thanks for your council Ann.”… Mark Hill

“I’m so thankful for Ann Blake-Tracy and all her work. Also for taking the time out to talk to me and educate everyone! She has been a blessing to me during this awful time of antidepressant hell!” … Antoinette Beck

 

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SOLDIER “MAY HAVE GONE BERSERK” IN AFGHAN SHOOTING

Intern’tl Coalition for Drug Awareness

Message

1. SOLDIER “MAY HAVE GONE BERSERK” IN AFGHAN SHOOTING

Posted by: “Ann Blake-Tracy”

Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:39 pm (PDT)

SOLDIER “MAY HAVE GONE BERSERK” IN AFGHAN SHOOTING:

Okay things are beginning to come out about this case … SO LET’S LOOK AT THEM….

#1 Very significant is that two years ago this soldier suffered Traumatic Brain Injury. Anyone who has had a brain injury should NEVER be given an antidepressant according to neurologist, Dr. Jay Seastrunk. The brain is far more vulnerable to seizure activity after such an injury and taking a stimulant (An ANTI-depressant or the opposite of a depressant IS A STIMULANT!). Remember that a manic psychosis is a continuous series of seizures in the brain which is basically what REM Sleep is also. (Keep that in mind as you read below about REM sleep.)

#2 In this article Dr. Johnathan Shay describes what he calls Berserk: “Berserkers … have this curious quality of icy and flaming rage; all they want to do is destroy, they want nothing to get in the way of their unmediated destruction and killing, and they are truly insensitive to pain. They are totally beyond the society of their own military forces and disconnected from them.”

“It’s a painful and destructive thing and usually fatal for the soldier… The term “berserk” is an Old Norse word describing the frenzied trance in which some warriors fought.”

Now what he has just described as “berserkness” is what is a perfect description of “homicidal ideation” – a compulsion to kill – continuous thoughts of killing and continuous thoughts of methods of killing – coupled with rage. Both rage & homicidal ideation are listed side effects of antidepressants which are prescribed at a shocking rate to our military! The main drug anyone would think of producing this type of reaction is PCP (Angel Dust) & antidepressants are the most similar drugs in action to PCP the world has ever seen!!

#3 Another quote from this article states: “And sleep is unmistakably the fuel for the frontal lobes of the brain, and when you’re out of gas in the frontal lobe you become a moral moron — a catastrophe with no moral restraint.” Combat stress, or PTSD in its most virulent form, tends to disrupt sleep.”

PTSD in its most virulent form does disrupt sleep but what disrupts sleep even more is antidepressants. One of the first things noted about the first SSRI antidepressant on the market, Prozac, was how it repressed REM Sleep. Now for those of you who have read my book, Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare, know after reading the chapter on the REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) that antidepressants cause this disorder where you act out nightmares. More recent research demonstrates that 86% of those being diagnosed with RBD are currently taking an antidepressant even though it has mainly been known as a drug withdrawal state. So those in withdrawal have an even greater chance of going into this sleepwalk nightmare we call RBD!

Close friends of mine had a son leave for Iraq a couple of years ago. The young man called his father, a social worker, to ask about taking an antidepressant. Why? Because he was told by Army personnel that he would need one in order to go to Iraq! Knowing a little about my work after learning a close friend of his was stabbed, along with his mother & sister, by their father, who then shot himself after only five days on Zoloft, he was concerned about antidepressants. A veteran himself, his father’s response was level headed. He told his son that if he ever needed to have his thoughts together & control over his actions & NOT be under the influence of a mind altering drug it would be while carrying a gun & facing what he would in Iraq.

Now what was most alarming to me was that so much pressure had been put on this young man by his superiors to take these drugs that even after all he had witnessed in his own personal life they had pushed him to the point that he would even feel like he needed to ask his father this question!!! Clearly our troops are being pressured into taking these drugs & have been drugged out of their minds for many years now – even to the point of this is the first war in which we are losing more troops to suicide than combat!!

I urge you to share this information with local reporters & everyone you know as a warning of the most deadly aspects of these drugs we mistakenly call “antidepressants”! Send them to read my FDA presentations how how these drugs can produce such violence at www.drugawareness.org (located just under the picture of my book on the right side) & to our database of cases like this one at www.ssristories.drugawareness.org so they can see the evidence that does exist & is presented in courtrooms in these cases. None of this should remain hidden from the public because this is a public safety issue!!!

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org & www.ssristories.drugawareness.org
Author: “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare –
The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon
Us & Our World” & CD on Safe Withdrawal “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

 

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PROZAC: Soldier Stabs to death Two Fellow Soldiers: Iraq/New York

Paragraphs 5 through 8 read:  “Investigators found the
23-year old’s body and along with the body of 20-year old Waide James of Port
St. John in Brevard County in their apartment just outside Ft. Drum in New York.
The two failed to report for duty on base.

Police say the Army Specialists had been stabbed to death.

New York

authorities tracked their other roommate, military police officer Joshua
Hunter,
to Ohio.

“Hunter, 20, was expected to be arraigned on
second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies
of James and Valbuena were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum,
a
bout 140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served
in Iraq at the same time in the same battalion.”

Paragraph 11
reads:  “‘He was a gunner and he was active,’  says his father, Jim
Hunter.  ‘He said he saw some things he couldn’t get out of his mind. I
know he was seeing a therapist and taking

Prozac.”

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/dec/04/slain-port-st-lucie-soldier-recalled-loving-person/

Slain Port St. Lucie soldier recalled as ‘loving person’ who put others
first

  • BY CAROLYN SCOFIELD WPTV NewsChannel 5
  • Posted December 4, 2009 at 6:18 a.m.

PORT ST. LUCIE ­ Nicole
Aviles will always remember his smile.

Diego Valbuena, a 2006 St. Lucie
West Centennial graduate, had a big grin and knew how to make his younger cousin
laugh.

“He was like the life of the party,” says Nicole Aviles. “He
always had a big grin on his face.”

There’s not a lot of laughter in the
family right now as they prepare for the funeral of the Port St. Lucie
resident.

Investigators found the 23-year old’s body and along with the
body of 20-year old Waide James of Port St. John in Brevard County in their
apartment just outside Ft. Drum in New York. The two failed to report for duty
on base.

Police say the Army Specialists had been stabbed to

death.

New York authorities tracked their other roommate, military police
officer Joshua Hunter, to Ohio.

Hunter, 20, was expected to be arraigned
on second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies of
James and Valbuena were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum, about
140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served in Iraq at the
same time in the same battalion.

They all were based at the wind-swept
Army post near the Canadian border, home of the much-deployed 10th Mountain
Division, and shared an off-base apartment.

Investigators have not
released a motive, but Hunter’s family says he served 15 months in Iraq and came
back scarred.

Relatives of Hunter said Thursday that he told them he saw
his best friend “blown to pieces” in Iraq and came back a changed man: abusive,
violent, sleepless, edgy and plagued by flashbacks.

“He was a gunner and
he was active,” says his father, Jim Hunter. “He said he saw some things he
couldn’t get out of his mind. I know he was seeing a therapist and taking

Prozac.”

Hunter’s wife, Emily Hunter, told The Associated Press in a
phone interview that her husband was outgoing before he went to war, but when he
returned stateside, he was an emotional wreck.

“He’d just burst into
tears; spouts of anger or sadness,” she said. “There’d be one emotion but it
would be really deep, just extremely happy or extremely sad. His emotions were
always on the rocks.”

“He’d take his rage out on the wall, or throw
something,” she said.

While he wasn’t violent toward his buddies, he was
toward her, she said, adding that she went to the hospital a couple of times for
treatment of an injured arm and thumb.

She said she moved out two weeks
ago because of his violence and is pursuing a divorce.

Valbuena also
served 15 months in Iraq. His family says he loved his country and excelled in
the Army.

He earned the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal
and Iraq Campaign Medal among other awards.

More important than the
medals was his love of family.

“A guy like him is like, one in a trillion
basically,” says Aviles. “He was just such a loving person, like he always put
others in front of himself.”

Sergio Valbuena said his brother was a good
man.

“He’s a pretty good boy, a pretty good kid,” he said. “He was loved
by everybody. He was a very good brother, a very good son.

“He was always
a problem-solver. He loved this country. That’s the reason he joined the
military.”

In September, James and Valbuena graduated from Fort Drum’s
Warrior Leaders Course, which teaches skills required to lead, train, fight and
accomplish the mission as noncommissioned officers. The two and Hunter all
listed each other as friends on their MySpace pages.

Valbuena wrote on
his MySpace page that he was born in Bogota, Colombia, and had joined the
military in August 2008.

James and Valbuena served as motor transport
operators with the Headquarters Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division,
according to Fort Drum’s public affairs office.

James arrived at Fort
Drum in July 2007, while Valbuena joined in August 2007 and came to Fort Drum in
January. Both have received awards and decorations including the Army
Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq

Campaign Medal and overseas service ribbon.

James’ grandparents, who live
in Port St. John, described him as an avid outdoorsman who loved
fishing.

James lived in Brevard County for three years before joining the
Army in March 2007. He arrived in Fort Drum in July of that year.

“He
returned from his first tour of Iraq about seven months ago,” said his
grandfather, Chuck Mills. “If he could go fishing every hour of the day, he
would. He loved four-wheeling, being out in the mud.”

Valbuena’s family
is making arrangements to hold his funeral in Port St. Lucie.

Staff
writer Eric Pfahler, Kaustuv Basu of Florida Today and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.

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ANTIDEPRESSANT: Suicide: Soldier: Iraq/Kentucky

Paragraph 16 reads:  “Depression first struck in the
summer of 2002, and Ala admitted himself to Ten Broeck Hospital, now called The
Brook. He was prescribed an anti-depressant, his parents
said, and later in the year saw a doctor at Fort Knox who determined he was fit
to stay in the Guard. He was deployed the next year to the Middle
East.”

Paragraphs 20 through 23 read:  “But in 2004, they began to
notice troubling signs. Arylane Ala said her son always wore black and went on
binges with vitamins, nutritional supplements and workouts. Sometimes he
would hide, saying he heard helicopters.
And he would get
extremely agitated while driving, occasionally slamming his car
into park, and running away, disappearing for hours or even
days.

In June 2005, Ala was hospitalized at the Louisville
VA Medical Center and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which the
VA later ruled service-connected, which made him eligible for financial
benefits.

He was prescribed lithium, but his parents said he sometimes
skipped his medication. At nursing school, he highlighted passages about bipolar
disorder in his psychiatry textbook, writing “me” in the
margins.

Finally, after a fight with his fiancee that resulted in her
obtaining an emergency protective order against him, Bryan Ala went to his
parents’ home. The Alas said he promised not to do anything rash. But after they went to work on Aug. 10, 2007, he took a rifle from
under his father’s bed and ended his life.

SSRI Stories note:

Antidepressants Can Cause Bipolar Disorder to Develop.  This is
stated in many scientific studies.  Bipolar Disorder Can Contribute to
Suicide.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090913/NEWS01/909130330

Suicide takes growing toll among military, veterans

By Laura Ungar • lungar@courier-journal.com
September 13, 2009

As soon as Arylane Ala walked into her house that day
in 2007, she saw blood ­ a red pool stretching from the coffee table to the
fireplace. Then she saw her youngest son face down on the floor, an antique
rifle by his side.

She didn’t approach his body, she said: “I didn’t
want to see his face … his expression.”

Four tumultuous years after
serving in the Middle East with the Kentucky Air National Guard, 25-year-old
Bryan Ala of Louisville took his life ­ part of a rising number of military
and veteran suicides as the Iraq war continues and fighting intensifies in
Afghanistan.

“Life goes on after you lose a child,” said Bryan’s father,
Rich, 60. “But sweet is never as sweet as it was. The sun’s never as bright.
I’ve got a hole in my heart that will never heal up.”

The federal
government estimates that 5,000 veterans commit suicide each year, and Dr.
Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said suicides
among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could top combat deaths.

He made the
statement last year at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric
Association and cited a study by Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization,
showing as many as 20 percent of veterans returning from these conflicts will
suffer major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and seven in 10 won’t
seek help from the departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.

The toll
is also rising in the active military, with the Army reporting the most
confirmed suicides ­ 140 last year. Locally, Fort Knox reported five
confirmed suicides in 2008 and 2009. Fort Campbell reported 24 suspected or
confirmed suicides in the same period and in late May suspended regular duties
for everyone for three days so commanders could better help soldiers at
risk.

Driving these numbers are pre-existing mental illnesses,
post-traumatic stress disorder and relationship or financial problems worsened
by long or repeated deployments, say mental health experts, who also point to
the stigma against seeking help in a culture known for toughness.

Many
families and veterans organizations argue that more needs to be done to stop the
deaths. And military and Veterans Affairs officials say they are taking the
problem seriously, beefing up mental health resources and suicide prevention
programs.

“We’ve got to hit it head on,” said Maj. Gen. Donald Campbell,
Fort Knox commander.

In July, Fort Knox played host to Maj. Gen. Mark
Graham of Georgia and his wife, Carol, who told a standing-room-only crowd about
the 2003 suicide of their son Kevin, 21.

The ROTC cadet at the University
of Kentucky suffered from depression before his sister found him hanged from a
bedroom ceiling fan. The Grahams, who have made military suicide prevention a
personal cause, shared Kevin’s story before attending a ceremony dedicating a
building to their other son, Jeffrey, who was killed in action in Iraq in
2004.

“We lost two sons,” said Mark Graham, who spoke again on Aug. 21 in
Frankfort. “Both our sons died fighting different
battles.”

History of mental illness

Mental illness also proved
too strong an enemy for Bryan Ala.

Growing up, he was adventurous and
loved caving, rock-climbing, fishing and going to the shooting range with his
father, a Vietnam vet. At 18, Bryan Ala joined the Air National Guard to help
pay for college, later enrolling in the University of Louisville’s nursing
school.

Depression first struck in the summer of 2002, and Ala admitted
himself to Ten Broeck Hospital, now called The Brook. He was prescribed an
anti-depressant, his parents said, and later in the year saw a doctor at Fort
Knox who determined he was fit to stay in the Guard. He was deployed the next
year to the Middle East.

Capt. Stephanie Fields, deputy state surgeon for
the Kentucky National Guard, said soldiers are not deployed if they have been
diagnosed with depression less than three months earlier because the soldier
needs to show stability. But otherwise, she said, decisions are made on a
case-by-case basis, according to Army policy, by a treating physician who
consults with the soldier‘s commander. If they are deemed too ill to deploy, she
said, they may still be able to stay in the Guard. Fields said soldiers have two
mental health evaluations before deployment.

Rich Ala said he worried
that serving abroad might aggravate his son’s depression, but didn’t say
anything because he figured his son was an adult who could take care of himself.

Bryan Ala spent six months as a medic in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates and Qatar, where his job was to care for an air crew and help at a
military field hospital. He didn’t talk much with his family about what he saw
during his tour, beyond the different cultures and the harsh conditions of a
desert tent encampment.

Back in the United States, he served another six
months as a medic with a hospital group at the Kentucky Air National Guard base
in Louisville, and his parents said everything seemed fine.

But in 2004,
they began to notice troubling signs. Arylane Ala said her son always wore black
and went on binges with vitamins, nutritional supplements and workouts.
Sometimes he would hide, saying he heard helicopters. And he would get extremely
agitated while driving, occasionally slamming his car into park, and running
away, disappearing for hours or even days.

In June 2005, Ala was
hospitalized at the Louisville VA Medical Center and diagnosed with bipolar
disorder, which the VA later ruled service-connected, which made him eligible
for financial benefits.

He was prescribed lithium, but his parents said
he sometimes skipped his medication. At nursing school, he highlighted passages
about bipolar disorder in his psychiatry textbook, writing “me” in the
margins.

Finally, after a fight with his fiancee that resulted in her
obtaining an emergency protective order against him, Bryan Ala went to his
parents’ home. The Alas said he promised not to do anything rash. But after they
went to work on Aug. 10, 2007, he took a rifle from under his father’s bed and
ended his life.

Combat haunts vet

Psychologist Lanny Berman,
executive director of the American Association of Suicidology in Washington,
D.C., said the military generally does a good job screening out people with
severe mental conditions.

But he said many soldiers suffer pre-existing
depression or develop mental illness during or after service ­ magnifying
everyday stresses and compromising already disrupted relationships.
(4 of 4)

Berman, who serves on a federal task force to prevent military suicides,
said the Iraq and Afghanistan wars pose the particular challenges of long tours
and close-range combat, and many veterans suffer post-traumatic stress
disorder.
Advertisement

Army Sgt. Cecil Harris of Pikeville, Ky., was one of them.
After serving in Iraq in 2003, he was flown to Germany with respiratory
problems, severe headaches and a bacterial illness, said his mother, Sharon
Harris of Louisville.

But long after the physical healing began, she
said, his combat memories haunted him, and he was diagnosed with PTSD at the
Lexington VA hospital.

In May of this year, in the midst of a divorce, he
called his mother in Las Vegas, where she was working as a traveling nurse. He
talked about difficulties with a new medication.

On May 17, Harris, 33,
was found hanged from a beam of an apartment under construction in
Danville.

His mother recalled his last words to her:

“Promise me,
Mom, if something happens to me, that you’ll be my voice to the boys who come
back so they get better medical treatment.”

Care gets beefed up

Military and VA officials said
they are trying to do just that.

Nationally, the VA has suicide
prevention coordinators in each of its hospitals and in 2007 started a suicide
hot line for veterans that has received more than 120,000 calls. The Louisville
VA Medical Center provides mental health care and outpatient group sessions for
once-suicidal veterans.

Joe Verney, suicide prevention program manager at
Fort Campbell, said his was the first Army installation in the continental
United States to create a council of leaders from medicine, religion, behavioral
health and other disciplines, in 2007, and to hire a suicide prevention
coordinator, in 2008.

The base also contracts with 29 behavioral health
professionals available for round-the-clock, anonymous consultations, and trains
soldiers in a suicide-prevention program called “Ask, Care, Escort,” which
stresses accompanying others to help.

Fort Knox officials said they are
taking similar steps, trying to eliminate the stigma against seeking
help.

“Our Army is clearly moving in the right direction,” said Mark
Graham, who used to command Colorado’s Fort Carson. “But it’s not moving fast
enough.”

The changes come too late for the Alas, who argue that mental
health needs to be treated like physical health, with the ill getting intensive
treatment.

Arylane Ala said problems with mental health care in the
military and VA reflect problems in the larger civilian culture. “Mental health
in general … should be more readily available,” she said. “People should be
treated more frequently. Having a (psychologist) to speak with every three
months is not enough when the illness is serious.”

Two years after their
son’s death, she and her husband often visit his ashes at a cemetery near Fort
Knox, placing plastic toy soldiers nearby to symbolize his service.

“You
hope nobody goes through the loss of a child,” said Arylane Ala, her eyes
filling with tears. “Life’s not meant to be that way.”

Reporter Laura
Ungar can be reached at (502) 582-7190.

478 total views, no views today

ANTIDEPRESSANT: Suicide: Soldier: Iraq/Virginia

Paragraph 11 reads:  “Starr attempted suicide last
summer. Medication and counseling followed. He returned to work a month later.”

Paragraph 16
reads: “Scott had shot himself hours earlier, at home in Virginia Beach.
He died within a few miles of base – yet word of his death came
to Greene from someone thousands of miles away.”

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/09/walk-brings-light-dark-subject-suicide-military

Walk brings light to dark subject of suicide in the
military

Posted to: Military

The Virginian-Pilot
© September 11, 2009

Jon Greene
knows  he might choke up when he reads aloud a certain name Saturday at
Mount Trashmore.

He lost Scott Alan Starr, a friend and colleague, to
suicide in August 2008. Greene was the commander of the Naval Surface Warfare
Center at Dam Neck; Starr worked closely with him.

Greene and other
volunteers will read the names of more than 100 people who took their own lives
in the past year as part of the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

The
walk, in its fourth year, brings together scores of people – more than 900 have
registered so far – and is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.
It’s sponsored by the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support
Group.

Some walk in memory of a friend or loved one. Others come because
they know what it’s like to suffer from depression.

“I can’t save Scott,
but I think there are lots and lots of folks in the military with lots and lots
to offer the world… who don’t realize that depression can be treated,” Greene
said.

Diagnosable depression is a factor in 90 percent of all suicides,
according to Chris Gilchrist, a Chesapeake social worker and one of the event’s
organizers.

Starr was the model Navy chief petty officer, Greene said:
strong, intelligent, well-respected, caring. A father figure to hundreds of
young sailors.

He first worked for Greene as senior enlisted adviser at
the surface warfare center. After retiring in 2007, Starr returned to Dam Neck
as a civilian employee.

“He was very proud,” Greene said. “And very
private.”

Starr attempted suicide last summer. Medication and counseling
followed. He returned to work a month later.

When Greene checked on him,
Starr’s response was always the same: “I’m doing great,” he would
say.

“He was the master chief. He was in charge; he was in control. There
were no cracks in his facade,” Greene said.

Greene set up automatic
reminders on his computer so he wouldn’t forget to check in with Starr. One of
them popped up on Aug. 17. But the day got busy, and Greene didn’t get to
it.

In his office early the next morning, Greene’s phone rang. It was a
friend of Starr’s calling from Iraq.

Scott had shot himself hours
earlier, at home in Virginia Beach. He died within a few miles of base – yet
word of his death came to Greene from someone thousands of miles away.

“I
really didn’t believe it,” Greene said in a recent interview, pausing and
looking up at the ceiling, trying to remember the moment. “It was absolutely
surreal.”

After getting the news, Greene shifted into “commanding officer
mode.” There were arrangements to deal with, colleagues to tell, a memorial
service to plan. The rituals helped. But Greene was unsettled. He couldn’t help
feeling that the military standard of suffering without complaint might have
doomed his friend.

Gilchrist and Greene’s wife, also a social worker,
helped him understand that suicide is a medical matter, not a moral
one.

Gilchrist noted that suicide is a major medical issue – 32,000
people take their own lives annually, she said. It is the 11th leading cause of
the death in the United States.

After years of war, the military has
gotten better at teaching service members about post-traumatic stress disorder
and mental health.

Generals and admirals talk about the spike in suicides
and are trying to address it. Earlier this year, the Army ordered a massive
safety stand-down to reach out to soldiers. The Navy has its own program for
spreading the message that it’s OK to ask for help.

But Greene, who’s now
retired from the Navy, knows that rank-and-file sailors don’t always buy the
message mouthed by military brass at the Pentagon.

“There are a lot of
good things going on in the military. I think there’s a willingness to do
something,” Greene said. “But fundamentally, it comes to the
culture.”

And that culture is action-oriented, goal-driven and full of
people who think “I’ll just power through this. I can hack it,” he
said.

“There are a lot of folks in the military – including some
relatively senior folks – who still see suicide and depression as a shameful
choice. I think there needs to be recognition by a lot of folks, specifically
the leadership, that you can’t hack it. Sometimes you need a little
help.”

Starr expected himself to be perfect. “He felt he had to live at
this ideal, this standard he’d set for himself,” Greene said.

That’s part
of the reason Greene invited Gilchrist to talk about suicide with leaders at the
surface warfare center. And it’s part of the reason he put up a large sign on
base, publicizing Saturday’s walk.

“There are so many people worried
about the damage that will be done to their career if they get help from
military medicine,” Greene said.

He acknowledged that there are
obstacles, but even within the military’s constraints, there are resources, like
special hot lines for service members and their families where they can get
immediate help.

“People in the military are put in extremely stressful
and dangerous positions,” he said. “That’s not going to change, and we don’t
want it to change. It’s the responsibility of leadership to listen and beware
when their sailors are having trouble.”

Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629,

kate.wiltrout@pilotonline.com

423 total views, no views today

ANTIDEPRESSANT: MILITARY SUICIDE: IRAQ/KENTUCKY

Paragraph 16 reads:  “Depression first struck in the
summer of 2002, and Ala admitted himself to Ten Broeck Hospital, now called The
Brook. He was prescribed an anti-depressant, his parents
said, and later in the year saw a doctor at Fort Knox who determined he was fit
to stay in the Guard. He was deployed the next year to the Middle
East.”

Paragraphs 20 through 23 read:  “But in 2004, they began to
notice troubling signs. Arylane Ala said her son always wore black and went on
binges with vitamins, nutritional supplements and workouts. Sometimes he
would hide, saying he heard helicopters.
And he would get
extremely agitated while driving, occasionally slamming his car
into park, and running away, disappearing for hours or even
days.

In June 2005, Ala was hospitalized at the Louisville
VA Medical Center and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which the
VA later ruled service-connected, which made him eligible for financial
benefits.

He was prescribed lithium, but his parents said he sometimes
skipped his medication. At nursing school, he highlighted passages about bipolar
disorder in his psychiatry textbook, writing “me” in the
margins.

Finally, after a fight with his fiancee that resulted in her
obtaining an emergency protective order against him, Bryan Ala went to his
parents’ home. The Alas said he promised not to do anything rash. But after they went to work on Aug. 10, 2007, he took a rifle from
under his father’s bed and ended his life.

SSRI Stories note:

Antidepressants Can Cause Bipolar Disorder to Develop.  This is
stated in many scientific studies.  Bipolar Disorder Can Contribute to
Suicide.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090913/NEWS01/909130330

Suicide takes growing toll among military, veterans

By Laura Ungar • lungar@courier-journal.com
September 13, 2009

As soon as Arylane Ala walked into her house that day
in 2007, she saw blood ­ a red pool stretching from the coffee table to the
fireplace. Then she saw her youngest son face down on the floor, an antique
rifle by his side.

She didn’t approach his body, she said: “I didn’t
want to see his face … his expression.”

Four tumultuous years after
serving in the Middle East with the Kentucky Air National Guard, 25-year-old
Bryan Ala of Louisville took his life ­ part of a rising number of military

and veteran suicides as the Iraq war continues and fighting intensifies in
Afghanistan.

“Life goes on after you lose a child,” said Bryan’s father,
Rich, 60. “But sweet is never as sweet as it was. The sun’s never as bright.
I’ve got a hole in my heart that will never heal up.”

The federal
government estimates that 5,000 veterans commit suicide each year, and Dr.
Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said suicides
among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could top combat deaths.

He made the
statement last year at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric
Association and cited a study by Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization,
showing as many as 20 percent of veterans returning from these conflicts will
suffer major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and seven in 10 won’t
seek help from the departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.

The toll
is also rising in the active military, with the Army reporting the most
confirmed suicides ­ 140 last year. Locally, Fort Knox reported five
confirmed suicides in 2008 and 2009. Fort Campbell reported 24 suspected or
confirmed suicides in the same period and in late May suspended regular duties
for everyone for three days so commanders could better help soldiers at
risk.

Driving these numbers are pre-existing mental illnesses,
post-traumatic stress disorder and relationship or financial problems worsened
by long or repeated deployments, say mental health experts, who also point to
the stigma against seeking help in a culture known for toughness.

Many
families and veterans organizations argue that more needs to be done to stop the
deaths. And military and Veterans Affairs officials say they are taking the
problem seriously, beefing up mental health resources and suicide prevention
programs.

“We’ve got to hit it head on,” said Maj. Gen. Donald Campbell,
Fort Knox commander.

In July, Fort Knox played host to Maj. Gen. Mark
Graham of Georgia and his wife, Carol, who told a standing-room-only crowd about
the 2003 suicide of their son Kevin, 21.

The ROTC cadet at the University
of Kentucky suffered from depression before his sister found him hanged from a
bedroom ceiling fan. The Grahams, who have made military suicide prevention a
personal cause, shared Kevin’s story before attending a ceremony dedicating a
building to their other son, Jeffrey, who was killed in action in Iraq in
2004.

“We lost two sons,” said Mark Graham, who spoke again on Aug. 21 in
Frankfort. “Both our sons died fighting different battles.”

History of mental illness

Mental illness also proved
too strong an enemy for Bryan Ala.

Growing up, he was adventurous and
loved caving, rock-climbing, fishing and going to the shooting range with his
father, a Vietnam vet. At 18, Bryan Ala joined the Air National Guard to help
pay for college, later enrolling in the University of Louisville’s nursing
school.

Depression first struck in the summer of 2002, and Ala admitted
himself to Ten Broeck Hospital, now called The Brook. He was prescribed an
anti-depressant, his parents said, and later in the year saw a doctor at Fort
Knox who determined he was fit to stay in the Guard. He was deployed the next
year to the Middle East.

Capt. Stephanie Fields, deputy state surgeon for
the Kentucky National Guard, said soldiers are not deployed if they have been
diagnosed with depression less than three months earlier because the soldier
needs to show stability. But otherwise, she said, decisions are made on a
case-by-case basis, according to Army policy, by a treating physician who
consults with the soldier’s commander. If they are deemed too ill to deploy, she
said, they may still be able to stay in the Guard. Fields said soldiers have two
mental health evaluations before deployment.

Rich Ala said he worried
that serving abroad might aggravate his son’s depression, but didn’t say
anything because he figured his son was an adult who could take care of himself.

Bryan Ala spent six months as a medic in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates and Qatar, where his job was to care for an air crew and help at a
military field hospital. He didn’t talk much with his family about what he saw
during his tour, beyond the different cultures and the harsh conditions of a
desert tent encampment.

Back in the United States, he served another six
months as a medic with a hospital group at the Kentucky Air National Guard base
in Louisville, and his parents said everything seemed fine.

But in 2004,
they began to notice troubling signs. Arylane Ala said her son always wore black
and went on binges with vitamins, nutritional supplements and workouts.
Sometimes he would hide, saying he heard helicopters. And he would get extremely
agitated while driving, occasionally slamming his car into park, and running
away, disappearing for hours or even days.

In June 2005, Ala was
hospitalized at the Louisville VA Medical Center and diagnosed with bipolar
disorder, which the VA later ruled service-connected, which made him eligible
for financial benefits.

He was prescribed lithium, but his parents said
he sometimes skipped his medication. At nursing school, he highlighted passages
about bipolar disorder in his psychiatry textbook, writing “me” in the
margins.

Finally, after a fight with his fiancee that resulted in her
obtaining an emergency protective order against him, Bryan Ala went to his
parents’ home. The Alas said he promised not to do anything rash. But after they
went to work on Aug. 10, 2007, he took a rifle from under his father’s bed and
ended his life.

Combat haunts vet

Psychologist Lanny Berman,
executive director of the American Association of Suicidology in Washington,
D.C., said the military generally does a good job screening out people with
severe mental conditions.

But he said many soldiers suffer pre-existing
depression or develop mental illness during or after service ­ magnifying
everyday stresses and compromising already disrupted relationships.
(4 of 4)

Berman, who serves on a federal task force to prevent military suicides,
said the Iraq and Afghanistan wars pose the particular challenges of long tours
and close-range combat, and many veterans suffer post-traumatic stress
disorder.
Advertisement

Army Sgt. Cecil Harris of Pikeville, Ky., was one of them.
After serving in Iraq in 2003, he was flown to Germany with respiratory
problems, severe headaches and a bacterial illness, said his mother, Sharon
Harris of Louisville.

But long after the physical healing began, she
said, his combat memories haunted him, and he was diagnosed with PTSD at the
Lexington VA hospital.

In May of this year, in the midst of a divorce, he
called his mother in Las Vegas, where she was working as a traveling nurse. He
talked about difficulties with a new medication.

On May 17, Harris, 33,
was found hanged from a beam of an apartment under construction in
Danville.

His mother recalled his last words to her:

“Promise me,
Mom, if something happens to me, that you’ll be my voice to the boys who come
back so they get better medical treatment.”

Care gets beefed up

Military and VA officials said
they are trying to do just that.

Nationally, the VA has suicide
prevention coordinators in each of its hospitals and in 2007 started a suicide
hot line for veterans that has received more than 120,000 calls. The Louisville
VA Medical Center provides mental health care and outpatient group sessions for
once-suicidal veterans.

Joe Verney, suicide prevention program manager at
Fort Campbell, said his was the first Army installation in the continental
United States to create a council of leaders from medicine, religion, behavioral
health and other disciplines, in 2007, and to hire a suicide prevention
coordinator, in 2008.

The base also contracts with 29 behavioral health
professionals available for round-the-clock, anonymous consultations, and trains
soldiers in a suicide-prevention program called “Ask, Care, Escort,” which
stresses accompanying others to help.

Fort Knox officials said they are
taking similar steps, trying to eliminate the stigma against seeking
help.

“Our Army is clearly moving in the right direction,” said Mark
Graham, who used to command Colorado’s Fort Carson. “But it’s not moving fast
enough.”

The changes come too late for the Alas, who argue that mental
health needs to be treated like physical health, with the ill getting intensive
treatment.

Arylane Ala said problems with mental health care in the

military and VA reflect problems in the larger civilian culture. “Mental health
in general … should be more readily available,” she said. “People should be
treated more frequently. Having a (psychologist) to speak with every three
months is not enough when the illness is serious.”

Two years after their
son’s death, she and her husband often visit his ashes at a cemetery near Fort
Knox, placing plastic toy soldiers nearby to symbolize his service.

“You
hope nobody goes through the loss of a child,” said Arylane Ala, her eyes
filling with tears. “Life’s not meant to be that way.”

Reporter Laura
Ungar can be reached at (502) 582-7190.

572 total views, 1 views today

DEPRESSION MED: ANOTHER MILITARY SUICIDE!!: IRAQ/VIRGINIA

Paragraph 11 reads:  “Starr attempted suicide last
summer. Medication and counseling followed. He returned to work a month later.”

Paragraph 16
reads: “Scott had shot himself hours earlier, at home in Virginia Beach.
He died within a few miles of base – yet word of his death came
to Greene from someone thousands of miles away.”

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/09/walk-brings-light-dark-subject-suicidemilitary

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/09/walk-brings-light-dark-subject-suicidemilitary

Walk brings light to dark subject of suicide in the
military

Posted to: Military

The Virginian-Pilot
© September 11, 2009

Jon Greene
knows  he might choke up when he reads aloud a certain name Saturday at
Mount Trashmore.

He lost Scott Alan Starr, a friend and colleague, to
suicide in August 2008. Greene was the commander of the Naval Surface Warfare
Center at Dam Neck; Starr worked closely with him.

Greene and other
volunteers will read the names of more than 100 people who took their own lives
in the past year as part of the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

The
walk, in its fourth year, brings together scores of people – more than 900 have
registered so far – and is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.
It’s sponsored by the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support
Group.

Some walk in memory of a friend or loved one. Others come because
they know what it’s like to suffer from depression.

“I can’t save Scott,
but I think there are lots and lots of folks in the military with lots and lots
to offer the world… who don’t realize that depression can be treated,” Greene
said.

Diagnosable depression is a factor in 90 percent of all suicides,
according to Chris Gilchrist, a Chesapeake social worker and one of the event’s
organizers.

Starr was the model Navy chief petty officer, Greene said:
strong, intelligent, well-respected, caring. A father figure to hundreds of
young sailors.

He first worked for Greene as senior enlisted adviser at
the surface warfare center. After retiring in 2007, Starr returned to Dam Neck
as a civilian employee.

“He was very proud,” Greene said. “And very
private.”

Starr attempted suicide last summer. Medication and counseling
followed. He returned to work a month later.

When Greene checked on him,
Starr’s response was always the same: “I’m doing great,” he would
say.

“He was the master chief. He was in charge; he was in control. There
were no cracks in his facade,” Greene said.

Greene set up automatic
reminders on his computer so he wouldn’t forget to check in with Starr. One of
them popped up on Aug. 17. But the day got busy, and Greene didn’t get to
it.

In his office early the next morning, Greene’s phone rang. It was a
friend of Starr’s calling from Iraq.

Scott had shot himself hours
earlier, at home in Virginia Beach. He died within a few miles of base – yet
word of his death came to Greene from someone thousands of miles away.

“I
really didn’t believe it,” Greene said in a recent interview, pausing and
looking up at the ceiling, trying to remember the moment. “It was absolutely
surreal.”

After getting the news, Greene shifted into “commanding officer
mode.” There were arrangements to deal with, colleagues to tell, a memorial
service to plan. The rituals helped. But Greene was unsettled. He couldn’t help
feeling that the military standard of suffering without complaint might have
doomed his friend.

Gilchrist and Greene’s wife, also a social worker,
helped him understand that suicide is a medical matter, not a moral
one.

Gilchrist noted that suicide is a major medical issue – 32,000
people take their own lives annually, she said. It is the 11th leading cause of
the death in the United States.

After years of war, the military has
gotten better at teaching service members about post-traumatic stress disorder
and mental health.

Generals and admirals talk about the spike in suicides
and are trying to address it. Earlier this year, the Army ordered a massive
safety stand-down to reach out to soldiers. The Navy has its own program for
spreading the message that it’s OK to ask for help.

But Greene, who’s now
retired from the Navy, knows that rank-and-file sailors don’t always buy the
message mouthed by military brass at the Pentagon.

“There are a lot of
good things going on in the military. I think there’s a willingness to do
something,” Greene said. “But fundamentally, it comes to the
culture.”

And that culture is action-oriented, goal-driven and full of
people who think “I’ll just power through this. I can hack it,” he
said.

“There are a lot of folks in the military – including some
relatively senior folks – who still see suicide and depression as a shameful
choice. I think there needs to be recognition by a lot of folks, specifically
the leadership, that you can’t hack it. Sometimes you need a little
help.”

Starr expected himself to be perfect. “He felt he had to live at
this ideal, this standard he’d set for himself,” Greene said.

That’s part
of the reason Greene invited Gilchrist to talk about suicide with leaders at the
surface warfare center. And it’s part of the reason he put up a large sign on
base, publicizing Saturday’s walk.

“There are so many people worried
about the damage that will be done to their career if they get help from

military medicine,” Greene said.

He acknowledged that there are
obstacles, but even within the military‘s constraints, there are resources, like
special hot lines for service members and their families where they can get
immediate help.

“People in the military are put in extremely stressful
and dangerous positions,” he said. “That’s not going to change, and we don’t
want it to change. It’s the responsibility of leadership to listen and beware
when their sailors are having trouble.”

Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629,
kate.wiltrout@pilotonline.com

325 total views, 2 views today

ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Suicide of Soldier: Iraq/Oklahoma

Paragraphs four & five read:  “”He e-mailed his best friend and told her what to do with all of his stuff, and he said he was going to visit his brother,” Brazil said by telephone from Claremore.  ‘Our brother died five years ago’.

“Hastings had trouble sleeping and had been taking antidepressants, but family members don’t know if the medication played a role, Brazil said.”

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/6582147.html

OKLAHOMA CITY The latest Oklahoma soldier to die in Iraq had become depressed and demoralized by the deaths of friends in combat, and family members suspect he committed suicide, his sister said Friday.

The Defense Department announced Thursday that Spc. Matthew Hastings, 23, of Claremore, died Monday from injuries he received in an incident not related to combat in Baghdad. A cause of death hasn’t been released by military officials, who say an investigation is under way.

Michelle Brazil believes her brother committed suicide based on a recent e-mail his best friend received just before he died.

“He e-mailed his best friend and told her what to do with all of his stuff, and he said he was going to visit his brother,” Brazil said by telephone from Claremore. “Our brother died five years ago.”

Hastings had trouble sleeping and had been taking antidepressants, but family members don’t know if the medication played a role, Brazil said.

His yearlong deployment was scheduled to end in December, she said. Family and friends got to see him during a two-week visit in April.

“He told us his plans for when he got back,” Brazil said. “He recently did some shopping online and ordered some clothing and that package arrived here in July, so he didn’t plan this for very long.”

Hastings was assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command out of Fort Hood, Texas.

He joined the military in August 2006 as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic and had been stationed at Fort Hood since February 2007. The unit provides basic medical services, said Tyler Broadway, a Fort Hood spokesman.

Hastings, a 2005 graduate from high school in Broken Arrow, liked to hunt and fish and “was just a comic,” Brazil said.

“He had a lot of friends. He always made everybody laugh,” she said.

Although Hastings’ death is still under investigation, the U.S. Army has developed a program to respond to increased suicides among soldiers. Beginning Oct. 1, soldiers will take a test to see how they respond to stress and to assess their resiliency, officials announced this week.

The Army said Aug. 13 that there were 62 confirmed suicides and 34 unconfirmed cases from Jan. 1 through July 31.

As for Hastings, Brazil said an autopsy is being conducted on her brother and his body hadn’t arrived in Oklahoma yet.

“I’m fine right now. I go in and out,” Brazil said. “I wake up in the morning and realize it’s not a nightmare and I cry for hours. After that, it’s just planning for the funeral. I’m sure it will soak in again soon.

“It’s such a shock.”

Hayhurst Funeral Home in Broken Arrow is handling funeral arrangements for Hastings, Brazil said.

Besides his sister, Hastings is survived by his mother and stepfather, Lawanda and Roger Lowry of Coweta; his father, Clark Hastings Jr., of Redfield, Ark.; grandfather Clark Hastings Sr., of Jacksonville, Ark.; and grandparents, Wanda and Vernon Cline of Pryor.

Hastings was going through a divorce and had no children, Brazil said.

An AP database based on Department of Defense news releases indicates Hastings was at least the 75th Oklahoma military serviceman to die in the war in Iraq.

Their brother, Clark Hastings III, preceded him in death.

294 total views, 2 views today