ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Suicide: 20 Year Old Woman: England

First two paragraphs read:  “A former Bolton School pupil
who suffered from “dark moods” took a fatal overdose of
anti-depressants,
an inquest heard.

Fay Turner died
aged just 20
in July after a row with her ex-boyfriend.

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/districtnews/4763545.___Dark_moods____of_overdose_former_pupil/

‘Dark moods’ of overdose former pupil

11:50am Friday
27th November 2009

A FORMER Bolton School pupil who suffered from “dark
moods” took a fatal overdose of anti-depressants, an inquest heard.

Fay Turner died aged just 20 in July after a row with her ex-boyfriend.

The overdose of prescribed medication was the latest in a number taken by Miss
Turner, who had a history of mental health illnesses including anorexia and
depression.

Miss Turner’s father, Philip Turner, of Andrew Lane, Bolton,
described his daughter as a bright girl.

In her early teens she
developed anorexia and was referred to the mental health services for help.

But she left the private school with good GCSE
results, he added.

Mr Turner said: “She was complex, she was very
bright, very perceptive. She did have image problems but at the same time she
was very gregarious and popular.”

Miss Turner dropped out of Turton

School sixth form after doing the first year of her A-level course after her
“mental health deteriorated”.

At the time of her death, she was an art
student at Bolton Community College, with aspirations to go to university to
become a primary school art teacher.

But the inquest heard she would
react to problems in an “impulsive and spontaneous” way and had on previous
occasions called an ambulance after taking an overdose.

On July 20, Miss
Turner was living in Rutland Drive, Bolton, after splitting from her boyfriend,
Ashley Smith, aged 20.

On that day they had a row and, he told the
inquest, he left to go for a walk.

When he arrived back at Rutland Drive
he found empty tablet packets on the floor. He said that when Miss Turner came
downstairs she was acting “really weird, slurring her words and stopping and
starting sentences”.

She tried to call for an ambulance, but Mr Smith
stepped in and called the emergency services himself. Miss Turner died later in
hospital.

Assistant deputy coroner Peter Watson, recording an open
verdict, was “not satisfied” she intended to take her life when she took the
overdose.

He added that despite support from her family, Miss Turner
“acted impulsively and spontaneously to problems that confronted her” when
suffering from “dark moods”.

schaudhari@ theboltonnews.co.uk

790 total views, 1 views today

ANTIDEPRESSANT: Speaker of the House in Georgia Legislature Attempts Suicide

Paragraph 7 reads:  “Sure, he had been under a doctor’s
care, taking medication, but apparently  ‘the black
dog,’ as Winston Churchill once called depression, started
howling so fiercely last Sunday that one of Georgia’s top legislators couldn’t
silence it. Those who suffer from depression are the first to know it is
hardly a simple disease.”

http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_163177.asp

Roy Exum: A Suicide Is Foiled
by Roy Exum
posted November 15,
2009

Roy Exum
Glenn Richardson is the Speaker of

the House in the Georgia legislature. He has been elected to represent those in
the Dallas/Hiram part of the state seven straight times and, when he became

Speaker in 2003, he was the first Republican chosen since Reconstruction.
Earlier this year, he was unanimously chosen as the legislature’s leader for the
third straight time.

In short, he doesn’t fail at many things, but a week
ago he tried to commit suicide. Because of quick action by emergency teams in

Paulding County, his life was spared and, in a moving story that appeared in
Saturday’s Atlanta newspaper, he courageously admitted he fights severe
depression and will use the near-tragedy to better suicide prevention.

His was hardly a publicity stunt or a novel way of attracting
voters. He doesn’t need that. But the anguish in his coming forward, readily
admitting his human flaw, shows that if depression can lay its thick and
suffocating blanket on state legislator Glenn Richardson, it can be a very black
cloud over any of us.

“While depression often seems to be resolved on
occasion, when personal trials or tribulations arise, it flares back up,”
Richardson said in his public statement. “That is what occurred with me. My
depression became so severe that I took substantial steps to do harm to myself
and to take my own life. I am thankful that because of medical intervention I
have instead been able to now receive help and support.”

A couple of

years ago Richardson and his wife were divorced in a high-profile case of a
marriage that was “irretrievably broken.” The couple has three children and
apparently Glenn has never shaken the pain of the divorce. Anyone who has ever
gone through a divorce can understand that, most especially if grief-stricken
children are watching.

“I ask that the media use discernment if they
report this and remember my friends and family who are also hurting,” his
statement read. “I fully believe this has and will continue to push me to find
my best self and use my position of leadership to raise awareness and let others
know they are not alone. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Sure,
he had been under a doctor’s care, taking medication, but apparently “the black
dog,” as Winston Churchill once called depression, started howling so fiercely
last Sunday that one of Georgia’s top legislators couldn’t silence it. Those who
suffer from depression are the first to know it is hardly a simple
disease.

So instead of giving in to the problem and giving up his
standing in the Georgia House after Sunday night’s scare, Glenn is now going
“public,” urging others to “stay in the game” rather than commit what has been
called “life’s most selfish act” because suicide leaves so many living victims

in its wake.

Both Republicans and Democrats applauded his courage Friday.
Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek), called Richardson a “brilliant
political leader and dear friend.”

“Most importantly, each of us is
praying for him and his family,” Burkhalter told newspaper reporters. “His
willingness to share this difficult experience clearly demonstrates his amazing
courage. Speaker Richardson is a true champion, and we in the House of

Representatives look forward to his continued leadership and
recovery.”

DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) is the House Minority leader and
added his “thoughts and prayers are with Glenn and his family. I am glad he
sought the help that he needed to. People need to know many people suffer from
depression and there is help that can be provided for that. I am thankful he got
the help he needed.”

So the lesson is not to point out how the strong
have fallen, but rather that those who suffer are not alone. There is help
available no matter where you are, who you are, or how insignificant the disease
might tend to make you feel you are.

The bottom line is that somebody
needs each of us. In the state of Georgia literally millions rely on Glen
Richardson’s wisdom and leadership. He’ll be the first to tell you today that no
matter how black the darkness may be, there is a way out of the maze of severe
depression if you’ll call on others to hold your hand until the professionals
who walk among us can cease its trembling.

Thank God that is what Glenn
Richardson did just last
Sunday.

royexum@aol.com

821 total views, no views today

LEXAPRO- 4 DAY WITHDRAWAL: Obit for Suicide

A family member has confirmed that Mahlon Wolfe was in
a four day withdrawal from Lexapro and
the police were called because he was suicidal.   He was killed by a
member of the SWAT team.  Withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. It is
important to withdraw extremely slowly from these drugs, usually over a period
of a year or more, under the supervision of a qualified specialist.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~neotoe/obits/index.htm

Mahlon R. Wolfe (Feb. 17, 1976 – Sept. 24, 2004)

Mahlon R. Wolfe, age 28, Avoca, died Friday, Sept. 24, 2004, at Avoca. He
was born Feb. 17, 1976, at Auburn, Ind., son of Michael G. and Margaret
(Householder) Wolfe. He married Roseann Groleau May 22, 1999, at Nebraska City.
He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Harold Householder, and
his paternal grandmother, Dorcas D. Wolfe. Services are at 1 p.m., Tuesday,
Sept. 28, 2004, at Fusselman-Wymore Funeral Home Chapel at Weeping Water. Bishop
Pat Herrick of the Church of Latterday Saints, Nebraska City, will officiate.
Cremation will follow the service.
Source: Nebraska City News-Press ,
Sept, 2004.

714 total views, no views today

ANTIDEPRESSANT: Woman Attempts Suicide After Therapist Had Affair with Her: CT

NOTE FROM Ann Blake-Tracy:

Those in the psychiatric community report that 75% of those doctors and nurses they work with are on antidepressants as well. Drug reps are telling them they are in a very stressful profession and sooner or later will need to start on antidepressants so they may as well start now! So chances are high that the therapist was also on medication leading to the affair.
_______________________________

Paragraph 8 reads: “In February 2009, after the therapist broke up with the victim, the woman tried to commit suicide while sitting in her car in Meriden, swallowing numerous anti-depression pills. But, she changed her mind after looking at a picture of her young child, according to the warrant.”

http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2009/10/29/news/shoreline/a1_–_therapist.txt
Therapist faces sex assault charges in affair with patient (with document)
Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009

By Susan Misur, Register Staff

GUILFORD ­ After allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a depressed and suicidal patient for more than a year, a New Haven-based therapist was arrested this week on a sexual assault charge, police said Wednesday.

Alan M. Shulik, a 58-year-old town resident, turned himself in to police Monday, and is accused of second-degree sexual assault, Chief Thomas Terribile said. The victim reported the incident Aug. 31.

Shulik met the victim when she and her husband went to Shulik for marriage counseling in Shulik’s New Haven office, Bishop Street Counseling. The Cheshire couple attended four to five sessions together, and Shulik requested the husband and wife come separately to appointments, according to Shulik’s arrest warrant.

He soon told the victim that she should e-mail him daily with her feelings about her marital situation, and he would tell her she was “wonderful and beautiful and her husband was not good to her,” the arrest warrant says. It adds that Shulik found the woman to be clinically depressed and sent her to a psychiatrist for medication.

The woman told Shulik she was beginning to have feelings for and becoming dependent on him, and at a mid-June 2008 therapy session, Shulik “had her sit on his lap, holding her hands, hugging and kissing her,” the warrant continues.

Shulik said he was ending their patient-doctor relationship, and the two started dating in late June 2008, frequently calling, texting and e-mailing each other, and having intercourse at Shulik’s Durham Road home. Shulik allegedly told the victim he would break up with his girlfriend so they could be together and get married, the warrant says.

The pair would meet two to three days a week for intercourse at Shulik’s home and office, and also traveled to Boston, New York City and Meriden to have sex in hotels, the warrant reads.

In February 2009, after the therapist broke up with the victim, the woman tried to commit suicide while sitting in her car in Meriden, swallowing numerous anti-depression pills. But, she changed her mind after looking at a picture of her young child, according to the warrant.

When she saw Shulik in May, they began having sex again, but in August, he sent her a text message to say he was out of the state and newly married to his girlfriend. A few days into his marriage, Shulik sent another text message the victim to say he loved her, the warrant says.

In late August, the two saw each other again, but when the victim saw Shulik with another woman at his home, she decided to report him to police.

The warrant provides therapy notes from the victim’s new therapist that say Shulik “violated her trust by having a sexual and romantic relationship with her … he has devastated this family.”

The warrant says Shulik went to police Oct. 12 and voluntarily told them he had had a consensual sexual relationship with the victim. Terribile said the investigation continues, and police are documenting the trips and hotel visits with receipts.

Second-degree sexual assault is defined as a situation in which a psychotherapist and a patient engage in sexual intercourse during a psychotherapy session; a patient or former patient is emotionally dependent on the psychotherapist; or the patient or former patient have sexual intercourse by means of therapeutic deception.

Shulik was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

A message left for Shulik at his office was not returned Wednesday.

Susan Misur can be reached at 789-5742 or smisur@nhregister.com.

1,162 total views, no views today

PROZAC: 25 Year Old Woman Commits Suicide: England

Paragraph 6 reads:  “And she said they put her on a
course of Fluoxetine [Prozac]
an anti-depressant which has been linked in some instances
with side effects which can lead to patients wanting to
commit suicide.”

http://www.birminghampost.net/news/west-midlands-health-news/2009/10/29/redditch-mother-to-take-somerset-nhs-trust-to-court-over-daughter-s-suicide-65233-25039846/

Redditch mother to take Somerset NHS Trust to court over daughter’s
suicide

Oct
29 2009
by John Marsden, Birmingham Post

A mother is set to take legal action against a hospital trust she claims
failed to spot her daughter’s mental illness that resulted in her
death.

Beautician Tracy Thomas was left devastated when her oldest
daughter, Kimberley, hanged herself in her bedroom just two weeks before
Christmas.

She claims Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust failed to
help 25yearold Kimberley after she repeatedly threatened to commit suicide

when she moved to the region in 2004.

Mrs Thomas, who lives in Redditch,
Worcestershire, with her three children, said Kimberely had been suffering from
Bi-Polar Disorder.

Despite Kimberley’s plea for help, Mrs Thomas said
doctors did not see her as a threat to herself.

And she said they put her
on a course of Fluoxetine – an anti-depressant which has been linked in some
instances with side effects which can lead to patients wanting to commit
suicide.

Mrs Thomas said: “If Kim had been in Worcestershire I’m sure she
would have been sectioned and been given 24-hour care.

“But doctors in
Somerset didn’t want to know. They were more concerned with transferring
resources elsewhere.

“They simply failed to see the gravity of her
illness. Of course I want an apology from the hospital but no words or money
will ever bring my daughter back.”

Mrs Thomas has now approached Irwin
Mitchell solicitors and said she intends to sue the Trust for negligence. She
has also set up a Facebook website called Survivors of Family and Friends to
Suicide, in a bid to help people who have been affected by similar
tragedies.

A spokesman for Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
said: “We offer our condolences to Mrs Thomas for the tragic death of her
daughter.

“The Trust would refute any suggestion that we were negligent
or failed to diagnose Kimberley correctly.

“We will defend ourselves
against any legal action taken against us.”

In April, an inquest heard
how former Debenhams employee Ms Thomas, of Winchester Street, Taunton, hanged
herself after a series of relationships broke down. Somerset Partnership NHS
Foundation Trust received an excellent rating from the Care Quality Commission
for its treatment of mentally ill patients last year.

952 total views, 2 views today

ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Woman Commits Suicide: England

Paragraph 28 reads;  “Mrs Davis received counselling
and was on anti-depressants,’ he said. ‘Mr Davies said
their marriage had been blissfully happy and he thought the financial problems
had been settled.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1223333/Husband-blames-Lloyds-wifes-suicide-bank-pulls-family-firms-overdraft.html

Husband blames Lloyds for wife’s suicide after bank pulls family firm’s
overdraft


Last updated at 3:05 PM on 27th October 2009

A
husband has claimed Lloyds bank was partly to blame for his wife’s suicide after
it suddenly pulled their overdraft.

Mark Davis says the bank’s actions
helped drive his wife Victoria to throw herself in front of a train earlier this
year.

An inquest into her death heard a £16,000 tax demand was also
hand-delivered to the family home on the morning of her suicide.

The
hearing was told Mrs Davis had battled to juggle her job as company secretary
for the family firm and coping with its debts with being a mother to two young
children.

‘Blissfully happy’: Mark and Victoria Davis. He claims
Lloyds bank was partially to blame for her suicide because it pulled their
overdraft

Her husband, from whom she kept secret the extent of the
family’s chauffeur business’s woe, insisted Lloyds TSB was also partly to
blame.

After the inquest, he told how they had been with the bank for
years and had always had the loan renewed on a yearly basis.

This was
suddenly changed to monthly renewals and then finally withdrawn, cutting adrift
the family chauffeur car business which then went bust, he claimed.

‘We
did everything they asked us to do and then they moved the goal posts and kept
moving them. I am extremely bitter about it,’ Mr Davis said.

‘Lloyds bank
holds some of the responsibility for her death. We banked with Lloyds for many
years and had a very successful business. But at the beginning of this year,
they were themselves in serious financial difficulties.

‘We had an
extremely large overdraft of £30,000 which was secured on our house and other
guarantees. Previously it had been renewed annually but suddenly it was only
renewed monthly and then it was pulled completely.

‘How can we run a
business on that basis? I had a letter from the bank yesterday saying they were
still holding a personal guarantee of mine and they wanted it paid.

‘But
my company has now gone into liquidation and as far as I can, I shall make sure
that Lloyds don’t get a penny.’

Mrs Davis committed suicide on railway
tracks near the couple’s home in Chalford, near Stroud in Gloucestershire in
May.

After her death, some 4,000 letters she had hidden away were found.
Ironically, many contained payments from customers that would have eased their
financial problems.

Following the inquest jury’s verdict of suicide, her
husband said he could not understand why she had kept the extent of their debts
from him.

He said: ‘She must have been frightened to tell me because I
can be a bit fiery but she was a very intelligent woman and after what we had
been through, I can’t believe she kept it all from me.’

The inquest in
Cheltenham heard that Mrs Davis had struggled to cope with handling the
company’s debts with being a mother to their two children, aged six and
four.

Mr Davis said she was a ‘fantastic woman‘ and wonderful mother.

‘We went through a low point but we got through it with the help of
counselling and I thought we had come out the other side. I clearly missed
something. Nothing was as important as us and our family,’  he
said.

The inquest heard Mrs Davis went and knelt in front of a train on
May 13 after receiving the tax demand.

Train driver Ian Green told how he
sounded his horn when he spotted someone on the track and that at first, she had
stepped out of harm’s way.

‘As I approached the first short tunnel around
a bend at about 50 miles an hour, I saw a person standing near the line at the
far end. There was work taking place on the line that day so I was not alarmed,’
he said.

‘I immediately sound a double horn warning and the person
stepped back from the line. But as the train drew closer she stepped forward and
knelt down on the line facing away from me. I applied the brakes but there was
nothing I could do to avoid her.’

An Audi belonging to Mr and Mrs Davis
was found parked in a lay-by nearby. The inquest heard there was a three-page
debt management letter on the front seat referring to the unpaid tax bill.

The family firm, Chauffeurwise Ltd, had succeeded at first but had to
sell half its fleet of eight cars when trade slowed, the hearing was told.

By 2008, it was in ‘deep financial trouble’, John Wilson from the
British Transport Police said.

‘Mrs Davis received counselling and was
on anti-depressants,’ he said. ‘Mr Davies said their marriage had been
blissfully happy and he thought the financial problems had been
settled.

‘But since her death 4,000 letters have been found which had
been secreted around the house, and many contained cheques from customers which
had they been cashed would have helped the company’s situation.’

The
inquest heard the Inland Revenue had contacted Mrs Davis several times about the
outstanding debts and that even on the morning of her death, she had not shown
signs of unusual behaviour on the phone.

Her GP Dr Susie Weir said her
health had been generally good until 2006 when she gave her anti-depressants
because she was struggling to cope with working full time and caring for her
young children.

She saw her again in March 2009 and said she did not
remember her being stressed or in a low mood but that she was back on
anti-depressants at that
point.

617 total views, no views today

ANTIDEPRESSANT: Suicide by Train: India

Paragraph two reads:  “A BE graduate, Ajay of Tanuku in
West Godavari district was jobless for the past nine years, Nampally GRP
constable S Madhava Rao said. He was in a
state of
depression and was undergoing medication.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/PRP-activist-jumps-in-front-of-train/articleshow/5137281.cms

‘PRP activist’ jumps in front of train

TNN 19
October 2009, 03:15am IST

HYDERABAD: A 42-year-old engineer, who
claimed to be a PRP activist, committed suicide by throwing himself in front of
a train near Sanatnagar railway station on Sunday morning.

A BE
graduate, Ajay of Tanuku in West Godavari district was jobless for the past nine
years, Nampally GRP constable S Madhava Rao said. He was in a state of
depression and was undergoing medication.

On October 13, Ajay came to
his brother Vijay’s house in Kukatpally. Since then, he had been staying with
either his brother or his co-brother Mallikarjun in Kukatpally.

On
Saturday at about 7 pm, Ajay left his co-brother’s house saying that he would go
to a friend’s house. Later in the night, Ajay made a phone call to his
co-brother and told him that he was going to commit suicide.

“Mallikarjun, Vijay and his brother Nani rushed and searched on the
railway tracks around Hi-Tec City but could not find him,” the constable said.

On Sunday at about 7 am, police got information about the body on the
railway tracks near the Sanatnagar railway station.

Police found a
suicide note in the wallet of the victim. It said: “I am committing suicide as
it is hard for me to adjust in society. I am jobless and there is no respect for
me here. I had worked with PRP and during that time suffered a leg injury. I am
still suffering due to the injury due to which I am in financial troubles and
decided to commit suicide.”

Ajay is survived by his wife and 10-year-old
son. A suspicious death case was registered under section 174 of CrPC.

790 total views, no views today

ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Woman Commits Suicide: Husband Charged for Assisting: Florida

Paragraph asix reads:  “Deputies say Ragan and his wife
were having marital problems and his wife was on
anti-depressants.
She was pronounced dead at the
hospital.”

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/brevard_news/091409_assisted_suicide_charge

Brevard man charged with assisted suicide

Updated:
Tuesday, 15 Sep 2009, 12:23 AM EDT
Published : Monday, 14 Sep 2009, 5:15 PM
EDT

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) – A Brevard County man has been

charged with assisted suicide after police say he helped his wife kill herself.
Investigators say this is one of the more bizarre cases they’ve ever
seen.

A 4-year-old child was left without his mom after she took her own
life and now he could lose his father too. Kevin Ragan was arrested for helping
his wife commit suicide.

In the frantic 911 call he told a dispatcher his
30-year-old wife was depressed and had been drinking. He says she threatened to
kill herself and admits offering her some loaded guns.

Ragan on 911 Call:
“I was being a smart a** and threw like three guns on the bed. I’m like, then do
it. And, she just picked the 40 caliber hand gun up.”

The rest of the 911
call on that sad day is too graphic to air, a distraught Ragan crying and asking
for an ambulance.

Deputies say Ragan and his wife were having marital
problems and his wife was on anti-depressants. She was pronounced dead at the
hospital.

Now more than three months later, after deputies got
confirmation from the medical examiner that the death was in fact a suicide,
they charged Ragan with assisting a suicide. He was arrested and bonded
out.

No one was home on Monday when a FOX 35 crew went to the Ragan home
but neighbors say they are stunned.

FOX 35 checked and found that Ragan
has no criminal history in Brevard
County.

614 total views, 1 views today

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.

934 total views, 3 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

792 total views, 1 views today