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Are We Giving Our Soldiers Drugs That May Make Them Kill Themselves?

More soldiers than ever are on drugs that have been linked to suicide and violent behavior.

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And psychiatrist and expert witness Dr. Peter Breggin specifically called on the military to “curtail the use of these drugs and rely instead on psychotherapeutic and educational processes that have already proved effective,” in a recent oped. “There is “profound danger of prescribing drugs that cause impulsivity, hostility and suicidality to heavily armed young men and women under stress on active military duty." He also called for “additional research in the military and the VA concerning suicide and violence caused by antidepressants.”

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. has also zeroed in on medicated troops in Senate hearings this year, calling the fact that one of every six troops are on psychoactive drugs "pretty astounding and also very troubling."

And Retired Col. Bart Billings, a former Army psychologist who has also testified before Congress, said, "I feel flat out that psychiatrists are directly responsible for deaths in our military, for some of these suicides," in a March Marine Times article. "I think it's criminal, what they are doing."

Still, the remarks of Katie Bagosy, the wife of Marine Sgt. Tom Bagosy who took his own life in May after being prescribed the medication Neurontin, might be the most persuasive of all.

In an article called "A Prescription For Tragedy" in the current National Journal, she says that her husband told her before his death that "'It all started to get worse when I got on this medication.’ Looking back, that was the beginning of the end.”

Martha Rosenberg frequently writes about the impact of the pharmaceutical, food and gun industries on public health. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and other outlets.

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