A Predictable Suicide at Camp Lejeune
A doctor warned that mental health care for violent, disturbed Marines was inadequate. Sgt. Tom Bagosy proved it
by Mark Benjamin
Salon, July 13, 2010
Marine Sgt. Tom Bagosy stepped out of his black GMC Sierra pickup and onto the gray, speckled pavement of McHugh Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare in the heart of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He held a pistol in his right hand.
The military police car that had pulled him over idled on the shoulder a safe distance behind him. The midday traffic stopped. Bagosy stood for a moment on the warm pavement under a cloudless May sky. Then he raised the pistol, pointed it to the right side of his throat just below his jaw, and pulled the trigger.
The bullet sliced through his jugular vein, traveled through his skull and exited near the top left side of his head. He crumpled down in the road. Even if the bullet had failed to rip through his brain, shooting through the jugular was solid insurance. He would have bled out in minutes anyway.
Bagosy, 25, who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, had become another statistic in the war-fatigued military and its steadily escalating suicide rate. Last year, 52 Marines committed suicide. The suicide rate among Marines has doubled since 2005, and the Corps has the highest suicide rate in the military. The circumstances of Bagosy’s death, however, provide a particularly poignant case study in what many critics say is the military’s inadequate response to that suicide crisis.
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