THE LAST BATTLE: Jason Pemberton, Medically Discharged From Army for Wounds and PTSD, Killed Himself and His Wife
by Greg Barnes
Fayettville Observer, Sept. 24, 2012
LILLINGTON – Angie Selvia knew her daughter’s husband had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
She knew, too, that former Fort Bragg Staff Sgt. Jason Pemberton’s psychological problems were getting worse after his medical discharge from the Army in 2009. He had hurt his back in a parachute accident.
Pemberton, a sniper before his discharge, had been going regularly to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where Selvia said he received the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin and other prescription medications.
She said he had become addicted to the drugs.
What she did not know was where her son-in-law’s demons would take him.
In early February, at his apartment in Daytona Beach, Fla., Pemberton shot and killed Selvia’s daughter, 25-year-old Tiffany Pemberton, and then turned the gun on himself.
Anyone considering prescribing Klonopin or any other AED must balance the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with the risk of untreated illness. Epilepsy and many other illnesses for which AEDs are prescribed are themselves associated with morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Should suicidal thoughts and behavior emerge during treatment, the prescriber needs to consider whether the emergence of these symptoms in any given patient may be related to the illness being treated.
Patients, their caregivers, and families should be informed that AEDs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of the signs and symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.
— Roche Laboratories’ website warning of suicide risk for those prescribed Klonopin
Three days earlier, Selvia said, her daughter called to say doctors at the VA hospital in Daytona Beach had just told her husband there was nothing more they could do for him, other than to write another prescription.
“She was very upset because she didn’t think he was getting the proper care,” Selvia said.
In 2010, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs issued directives on the treatment of PTSD. The guidelines cautioned against the use of benzodiazepines, which include Klonopin, saying they can do more harm than good.
In 2009, Roche Laboratories Inc., the manufacturer of Klonopin, warned that the drug can increase the risk of suicide.
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Filed under: Resources Tagged: | 82nd Airborne Fort Bragg, Angie Selvia, Klonopin Benzodiazepines addiction, PTSD drugs, Roche Laboratories Inc., Staff Sgt. Jason Pemberton, Suicide prevention, Tiffany Pemberton, Veterans Affairs, Veterans Suicide Epidemic