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A disaster caused by the American army

A disaster caused by the American army
A disaster caused by the American army

 


In early February, according to a note in Valley's medical file, his company's management was informed that he was experiencing depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation, but Valley still received no formal behavioral health counseling. Instead, Fritch and another soldier told me that some of Valley's teammates had been instructed to watch him. They did their best, making sure Valley ate meals with them and accompanied them if they left the base to go out on the town.

One weekend one of Valley's friends managed to get them a weekend off and they went to Berlin. During this trip, he seemed to be the same as before, his friend said. They went clubbing, got drunk and visited Checkpoint Charlie, the famous Cold War border crossing between East and West Berlin. When they returned, he seemed to be doing better, his friend said. He even talked about enrolling in college to become an officer. But after a few weeks, he was depressed again.

In early March, Valley's girlfriend broke up with him. Valley, according to several of his friends, had a hard time accepting it. Around the same time, he was taken off mirtazapine and put on the antidepressant Celexa. Valley complained that mirtazapine no longer worked for him, but there is no note in Valley's medical records that explains why this change was made or whether the prescriber was aware of Valley's psychiatric history.

Regardless, several Army behavioral health specialists I spoke with found the choice of Celexa troubling, because it is in the class of antidepressants that come with a black box warning, because it may increase suicidal thoughts in some young patients. I would say that a 21-year-old soldier who has a history of suicidal ideation and is still adjusting to a new environment deserves further examination before putting him on this medication, said a BH officer informed of the details of the case.

I'm losing my mind, Valley texted one of his sergeants about a week after starting Celexa. He asked for help: I ​​need a real BH person. On March 9, after three months of seeking therapy, Valley finally got an appointment with Melissa Samio, one of two BH providers embedded in the unit, now stationed in Bulgaria. Samio hadn't seen Valley since she requested her waiver at Fort Riley in November. Now, during a video session, Samio asked Valley how he was feeling. Really, really shitty, ma'am, he said, according to his notes. He told her about his breakup and said he had thought about suicide that morning. Everything is falling apart, he tells Samio. Concluding that he was an intermediate suicide risk, Samio issued a new 30-day profile that prohibited him from carrying or shooting a weapon. After the session, she contacted the battalion primary care officer to arrange an in-person evaluation of Valley. The officer, Samio later noted, never called her back.

Sources

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2/ https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/19/magazine/suicide-military-austin-valley.html

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