One of the few things I agreed with Lefty blogger Markadelphia on was our belief that mood-altering chemicals have an association with "spree killings." I believe, and have so stated, that a tiny percentage of the population is adversely affected by this class of pharmaceuticals, specifically the antidepressants known as "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors" (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft. I think for a tiny percentage of people these drugs can unlock normal inhibitions and lead to severe violence. I think that the percentage is so small that it would appear in any study as "statistical noise," but I also believe that there have been too many rampage shooters who have been on such medications for it to be mere coincidence.
So imagine my discomfort to discover that:
Data contained in the Army's fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope.The one thing that helps alleviate my discomfort is this:
Given the traditional stigma associated with soldiers seeking mental help, the survey, released in March, probably underestimates antidepressant use. But if the Army numbers reflect those of other services — the Army has by far the most troops deployed to the war zones — about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were on such medications last fall. The Army estimates that authorized drug use splits roughly fifty-fifty between troops taking antidepressants — largely the class of drugs that includes Prozac and Zoloft — and those taking prescription sleeping pills like Ambien.
(S)oldiers — who are younger and healthier on average than the general population — have been prescreened for mental illnesses before enlisting.But I have read LtCol Dave Grossman's excellent book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, and I realize that combat can have a mentally debilitating influence on the majority of combat soldiers.
So the question I have is, are our soldiers stable enough to withstand the effects of these drugs? I know our mental health screening efforts aren't what they could be, given the example of Steven Dale Green, but I certainly don't want another Green coming back here and deciding to end it all and take as many with him as he can.
I hope like hell the military is supporting and observing those who are on SSRI's for changes in behavior patterns.