BY: THE PLAID ZEBRA
“We can be there for you—as you were there for us—protecting our country, let us protect you!” This is one of the many heartfelt comments on Send up the Count’s Facebook page. Send up the Count is a social media campaign started in 2013 by two Canadian veterans of Afghanistan. The name is derived from a military patrol command, often used in dark and dangerous areas, where each soldier in turn reaches out and taps the soldier in front of them to acknowledge their presence. This symbolizes the campaign’s hope for soldiers to reach out to fellow veterans to ensure that no one is unwell, slipping into depression, or contemplating suicide.
PTSD is the leading cause behind the epidemic of suicide among American military personnel. In 2012, the number of military suicides far exceeded the total of those killed in battle. Approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day, contributing to a total of 8,000 deaths per year. What exactly is the underlying cause behind these numbers?
According to the new documentary The Hidden Enemy: Inside Psychiatry’s Covert Agenda, all the evidence points to the soaring rates of prescribed psychiatric drugs. Commonly-prescribed medicines like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil have side effects that include increased aggression and suicidal thinking. Pull the string further and you’ll find psychiatrists are widening definitions of what it means to be “mentally ill.” The fact is that most of these drugs do not cure anything, but merely mask the symptoms of a mental illness.
Not only are soldiers coming together and setting up campaigns and hotlines to combat veteran suicide, but more and more alternatives to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are being introduced. Methods beyond traditional cognitive therapies such as mindfulness-based therapy and psychomotor therapy have been clinically proven by US studies to improve symptoms of PTSD.
Drug reform and the collapse of long-held stigmas has led to an increased number of clinical studies being undertaken to see if popular street drugs can aid PTSD victims. A 2014 study examined in New Mexico found evidence of medical marijuana’s success in treating PTSD. A 2011 paper reported that 83% of patients given MDMA-assisted psychotherapy experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms compared to just 25% given standard psychotherapy. Pilot studies and clinical trials of LSD, psilocybin, ketamine and MDMA have shown that drugs, often in combination with talk therapy, can be safely administered under medical supervision and act as a remedy for chronic mental illnesses like PTSD, alcoholism, anxiety, and depression.
It’s important we let our soldiers know that they aren’t forgotten just because the potential of them stepping onto a landmine has been erased. Soldiers need to be treated like human beings and not fall victim to the mandate of today’s medical system. The claim that the solution to PTSD lies in unconventional drug use is yet to be confirmed, but as traditional psychiatric methods have led to the deaths of many soldiers, it’s time to start adopting new ones.