“We have never drugged our troops to this extent and the current increase in suicides is not a coincidence. Why hasn’t psychiatry in the military been relieved of command of Mental Health Services? In any other command position in the military, there would have been a change in leadership.”

— Bart Billings, Ph.D., Retired Col. and former military psychologist

The life of a soldier is demanding.

You’re trained to be alert, decisive and focused—and in top physical and mental shape. It’s a necessity.

But soldiers operating under the influence of psychiatric drugs reflect just the opposite.

Nevertheless, military electronic records show that at least one in six service members has been on some form of psychotropic drug. This ratio is probably vastly understated, as prescription records are not kept on the front lines, where drugs are often informally passed out by medics or between fellow soldiers.

The risks of taking psychotropic drugs have long been known. With antidepressants, there are now nearly 100 drug regulatory agency warnings from ten countries and the European Union alerting prescribers and patients to the drugs’ adverse effects, including hostility, violent behavior and suicide.

Though none of this drugging truly serves the active-duty soldier or veteran, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veteran Affairs (VA) have spent almost $2 billion since 2001 to treat mental disorders. This astonishing sum is not unique to the United States: Every year the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs spends $160 million on mental health for its veterans.

Even so, considerable psychiatric expenditures like these in militaries throughout the world have done nothing to reduce the rate of hospitalization of active troops for mental health problems. On top of this, suicide rates continue to escalate.

More British soldiers and veterans committed suicide in 2012 than were killed in battle. And more Australian Defense Force employees have died by suicide over the past decade than have died on the front line.

Between 2001 and 2009, there were 2,100 suicides in the U.S. military, triple the number of troops that died in Afghanistan and half of all American deaths in Iraq. During that same period, military orders for psychiatric drugs known to cause suicidal thoughts and acts increased 76%.

American vets have it even worse. One U.S. military veteran kills himself every 65 minutes—an astonishing 22 a day.

Psychiatry: Hooking Your World on Drugs