Navy SEALs are using viagra to self medicate during ‘Hell Week’

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Navy SEALs are using viagra to self medicate during ‘Hell Week’

Featured Image Credit: Craig M. Eisenberg/Everyday Images/Alamy Stock Photo

The mother of a Navy SEAL recruit who passed away has alleged off-label Viagra is being used by candidates to manage a life threatening condition caused by training.

The Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S) has come under scrutiny after 24-year-old Kyle Mullen passed away shortly after completing what is known as 'Hell Week'.

Mullen's mother, Regina, has called the training 'torture' and accused the Navy SEALs of having 'killed' her son.

Kyle Mullen passed away shortly after 'Hell Week'. Credit: US Navy Photo/ Alamy Stock Photo
Kyle Mullen passed away shortly after 'Hell Week'. Credit: US Navy Photo/ Alamy Stock Photo

Mullen was one of 210 men to start the training, however, only 21 men were left by the halfway point.

Mullen managed to complete 'Hell Week' – five-and-a-half days of cold water swimming and runs on little sleep – but just hours after, his heart stopped and he passed away.

Mullen's cause of death was ruled as bacterial pneumonia. However, Mullen's mother has argued his death was a result of the gruelling physical assessments recruitments have to take part in leading to exhaustion and a lack of care for recruits' health after Hell Week was over.

In a press release, the Navy stated Mullen and another recruit hadn't 'experienced an accident or unusual incident' during Hell Week and had 'not [been] actively training when they reported symptoms'.

Some people who take part in the intense training contract swimming induced pulmonary edema (SIPE), which can occur after prolonged periods of time in water. SIPE can cause breathlessness, chest pain, coughing and even the coughing up of blood. It is a potentially life-threatening condition.

However, according to Mullen's mother, the 24-year-old also ended up taking performance Viagra on the advice of other SEAL candidates, as it's seen as a potential treatment for SIPE.

After contracting SIPE in the second week, Mullen's mother told the New York Times she urged her son to go to hospital 'right away,' but that Mullen started taking Viagra and carried on with the training.

Navy SEALS recruits are allegedly using Viagra to try and treat symptoms of Sipe. Credit: dpa picture alliance/ Alamy Stock Photo
Navy SEALS recruits are allegedly using Viagra to try and treat symptoms of Sipe. Credit: dpa picture alliance/ Alamy Stock Photo

While its not been reported that drugs had any influence on Mullen's passing, chief science officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Dr. Matthew Fedoruk, said that combined with the intense training, some chemicals could have an affect on the performance of critical organs such as the heart and liver.

Dr Fedoruk said that if recruits are using such drugs to help their performance, "It makes it that much harder for the people doing the right thing to shine."

Mullen's SIPE is said to have returned during Hell Week. Credit: US Navy Photo/ Alamy Stock Photo
Mullen's SIPE is said to have returned during Hell Week. Credit: US Navy Photo/ Alamy Stock Photo

BUD/S is meant to be gruelling and push candidates to their mental and physical limits, according to a medical officer, and subsequently while daily medical checks are performed on recruits, they are only pulled from the training if their vital signs become a serious cause for concern.

Mullen was given oxygen at various points throughout Hell Week, but in his final medical check after completing the training he was told he was fine, according to a fellow candidate.

After Hell Week had finished and the medics had gone home, the effects of SIPE began to really show, with Mullen reportedly coughing up around 32 ounces of bloody saliva and mucus.

Mullen's required oxygen throughout Hell Week. Credit: PJF Military Collection/ Alamy Stock Photo
Mullen's required oxygen throughout Hell Week. Credit: PJF Military Collection/ Alamy Stock Photo

Eventually, after attempting to contact medical staff, a civilian ambulance was called. By the time it arrived, Mullen was reportedly found with no pulse.

Mullen's mother and family are unable to launch a wrongful death lawsuit as the Navy is protected from them by law.

However, Mullen's mother hopes a separate institution will be given oversight over BUD/S and hopes this will be enforced by Congress.

Since Mullen's passing, instructors have removed some of the more brutal aspects of Hell Week, recruits have been given more sleep and, when Hell Week ends, recruits are given medical monitoring for 24 hours.

The Navy SEALS are expected to address the drug use and Mullen's death later this year.

UNILAD has contacted the Navy SEAL Foundation and Navy Special Warfare for comment.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677 

Topics: News, Health, US News, Mental Health

Poppy Bilderbeck
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