Many US troops at risk for suicide not getting needed care: report

US troops
Many US troops who were diagnosed with depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and thus at high risk for suicide failed to receive appropriate care, according to a new study released Monday.


Only 30 percent of troops with depression and 54 percent with PTSD received appropriate care, said the report, entitled Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System.

Some 2.6 million US troops were sent to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2014. The report estimates that at least four percent and up to one-fifth of them have been affected by post-traumatic stress.

The rate of suicide in US troops doubled between 2005 and 2012 and stabilized afterwards but not diminished, according to a USA Today report quoting the Pentagon. The rate now remains about 20 per 100,000 people.

"We want to ensure that they get connected with behavioral health care," said Kimberly Hepner, the report's lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization.

"The most immediate action - removal of firearms - can help reduce risk of suicide attempts," said Hepner. Pentagon data shows that guns accounted for 68 percent of suicides by active-duty troops in 2014.

Moreover, one third of troops with PTSD were prescribed with benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medication which is thought harmful to their condition.

"The report findings and recommendations are being reviewed and will be used to shape our future direction to ensure we are improving patient care," Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa said.

The report, commissioned by the Pentagon and conducted by the Rand Corp., has reviewed the cases of 39,000 troops diagnosed with depression, PTSD or both conditions in 2013.
    [globaltimes.cn/Xinhua]
 8/8/17

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