{Updated} Lisa Torok Contacts Professor Kirstein: Sister of Iraq Veteran Casualty of War. Did research paper on Lariam.

Michael Torok was a communications specialist for the United States Army. I had written this blog post on suicides during the Iraq War in April 2006:

The number of suicides in the U.S. army of occupation was 87 for 2005 although we do not know the precise number that was specifically war related. I originally posted a number of 83 which is unfortunately too low. This represents a kill ratio of 12.5 per 1000. The marines are not much better with 24 suicides at a rate of 12.3 per 1000. Compare this to the Air Force’s 31 which is 8.9 per 1000 or the navy’s total of 36, 9.7 per 1000 and one can discern that the Iraq war is the cause of a considerable number of deaths by suicide. Clearly those departments that have ground troops in country are experiencing higher ratios of suicides than those less engaged in this state act of terrorism.

Also those who think the Pentagon is promilitary and protroops, should consider that the statistics do NOT include suicides of those who were Iraqi war veterans such as Michael Torok, who committed suicide in all likelihood due to unresolved mental problems resulting from “Operation Crusade Against Islam.” The numbers are considerably higher when factoring those suicides among military personnel that served in country and then left the military.

The army began in 2003 a suicide prevention programme called in typical Pentagonese, Deployment Cycle Support. My advice to army personnel deployed in this aggression: refuse to carry out any immoral or illegal order that violates the laws of war. Openly protest the war or encourage former senior army military officers to protest the war–not the tactics, not the strategy–but the morality of this unjust war. People should not have to die or commit suicide related to a war for S.U.V.s, a war propagated by those who see no difference between Israeli and American national security interests and a war that continues to be waged as a fruitless effort to salvage Mr Bush’s inevitable historic legacy as a president who lost a war, destabilised the Middle East, rendered the United States more vulnerable to attack and brought shame and dishonour to America from Abu Ghraib to Haditha.
I received this e-mail: Lisa Torok Thu 3/22/2007 10:49 PM:

“Also those who think the Pentagon is promilitary and protroops, should consider that the statistics do NOT include suicides of those who were Iraqi war veterans such as Michael Torok, who committed suicide in all likelihood due to unresolved mental problems resulting from Operation Crusade Against Islam. The numbers are considerably higher when factoring those suicides among military personnel that served in country and then left the military.”

I was wondering if you could explain what “Operation Crusade Against Islam” is? My name is Lisa Torok and Mike Torok was my brother. I am not understanding what you had written in this internet article about military suicide. This is new news to me and we have been researching lariam for past few years.

Thanks Lisa Torok

I responded Fri 3/23/2007 7:01 AM

Dear Lisa:

First let me say I am deeply sorry over the death of your brother. I have opposed this war in large measure because of the needless casualties and I am deeply sorry.

The term “Operation Crusade Against Islam” is not an official term of course. I used it in a somewhat ironic manner to communicate my criticism of this war. It was my use of a term to denote criticism and I am sorry if you were confused by it. We tend to construe others actions as motivated by “crusade” or “jihad” and rarely reflect honestly and forthrightly on our own motives.

I noticed you mentioned Lariam, an anti-malarial drug. I am not in a position obviously to assess that as a factor in suicide but so many medications are administered without full understanding of their consequencs. The Pentagon is historically reluctant to attribute deaths to medication, Agent Orange and other agents since it would admit culpability in its deadly profession of death and destruction.

I hope this answers your question.

Most sincerely,

Peter N. Kirstein

Sent: Fri 3/23/2007 10:50 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: RE: Mike Torok—military suicide article

Thank you so much for your quick reply. We have been looking at alternate reasons for his death and I know he had a special clearance so was not sure if this was something else the government was hiding.

thanks again, lisa
Kirstein, Peter N. Sent: Sun 3/25/2007 5:05 PM

Dear Lisa:

May I post on my blog our e-mail exchanges? It would be done in an appropriate manner but wanted your permission.


Lisa Torok to Professor Kirstein Tue 3/27/2007 10:41 AM

That is fine and if you wanted to do a little research on Lariam I am sure you would think it to be very interesting. It is even said that the government invented it in 1984 to process angrier soldiers.

The side effects are 2 pages long, I have attached a paper that I wrote for nursing class. It would be incredible if you could help me get the word out to prevent further suicides. Many parents of military suicides think it is PTSD, because that is what the government tells them.
Lisa Torok paper on Lariam:

Lisa Torok
C.N.A Theory paper
November 16, 2006
The Other Side of Lariam

“The most frequently reported adverse effects are nausea, vomiting, loose stools or diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness or vertigo, loss of balance, and neuropsychiatric events such as headache, somnolence, and sleep disorders such as insomnia, abnormal dreams, or nightmares. On occasion more severe neuropsychiatric disorders have been reported such as sensory and motor neuropathies including paresthesia, tremors, and ataxia, convulsions, agitation or restlessness, anxiety, depression, mood swings, panic attacks, forgetfulness, confusion, hallucinations, aggression, psychotic or paranoid reactions and encephalopathy. Rare cases of suicidal ideation and suicide have been reported though no relationship to drug administration has been confirmed. Other infrequent adverse effects include cardiovascular disorders (circulatory disturbances, hypotension, hypertension, flushing, syncope, tachycardia, palpitation, bradycardia, irregular pulse, extrasystoles, A-V block and other transient cardiac conduction alterations.”

Skin disorders and musculoskeletal disorders were also added to the warning label for Lariam in July 2002. This list is just a small part of the side effects for Lariam, a drug given to prevent malaria. This little white pill was produced and invented by the United States government in 1984 and has been distributed by the company Hoffman La-Roche, which is suspected to have known of the side effects for over ten years. A six-month investigation on Lariam was conducted by The United Press International in early 2002, they researched thousands of pages of internal documents spanning a decade, and tracked increased reports of suicides, suicidal behavior, and other mental problems among Lariam users. The FDA found eleven suicides attributed to Lariam, and one expert on drug effects (name not listed) said the number could be 100 times higher. There is another negative effect not listed on warning labels: the United States government has given this drug to its soldiers for almost ten years. What is even more alarming is that Lariam was administered to soldiers trained to kill, might already be suffering from post war trauma, and has access to heavy artillery.

Malaria is a parasite passed from mosquitoes to humans, malaria occurs in mostly tropical and subtropical regions. Malaria carriers can suffer recurrent attacks of chills and fever and sometimes death. According to records, Iraq does not have mosquitos in most of the country which means, no malaria. So why were the soldiers taking Lariam? The soldiers were ordered to take Lariam every Monday and the drug was administered by a medic. There was no written log of how many pills the soldiers had taken nor was any soldier made aware of the side effects. The majority, if not all of society, would not take Lariam if given this long list of side effects. Our soldiers were ordered to take Lariam and not given their right to a decision. This led to many killings and suicides between 2002 and 2004. During the summer of 2002, four soldiers from Fort Bragg, NC killed their wives and then three of them killed themselves. Another soldier, Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany, was charged with cowardice, an offense punishable by death, after he suffered a panic attack in Iraq when he saw the body of an enemy soldier. Pogany said he had taken Lariam and panic attacks are listed under adverse reactions on the drug label.

On September 5th, 2004 Cpl. Michael Torok had returned home from Fort Bragg, NC to Kingston, IL to stay with his family. Unaware of what the future was to hold, his family was excitingly waiting for his arrival home after serving four years in the Army. On Sunday afternoon Torok left his home saying he was going to visit with a friend in Shabbona, IL. Torok did not return home. Two days had passed before his family reported him missing and began a nineteen day search for his body. Torok had gone to Menards and Road Ranger in Cherry Valley, IL on Sunday afternoon directly after leaving family home. He then went to Monroe Center, IL and found an isolated corn field, parked his black Chevy Silverado, and attempted to attach a dryer exhaust hose, which he purchased at Menards, to his exhaust. In an unsuccessful attempt in trying to infixiate himself, he returned to the driver seat of his truck and stabbed himself through the left ventricle of his heart with a leatherman tool. According to a medical examiner, it only took a few seconds for him to bleed to death, and obviously Torok knew how and what he was doing. There was an autopsy done on Torok’s body, but because he was dead for nineteen days most of his major organs were badly decomposed leaving very little evidence. After many months of trying to prove Torok had taken Lariam, his family requested another toxicology report done on his liver.

Dr. Christopher Long reported that Torok had Mefloquine in his blood and that the level was .64 mcg/ml while the report limit would be .10 mcg/ml. Dr. Long had thought Torok took the drug right before he died but in truth it had been over one year since Torok had taken the little white pill. This is truly an example of how long Lariam can stay dormant in the human body. It can lie dormant in the brain, liver, kidneys, heart, and blood and effect its host long after the drug had stopped being administered. Right now there are many class action lawsuits against Lariam and Hoffman-LaRoche for the side effects many patients were not aware of. The government still has not admitted to the many suicides occurring in the military to be attributed to Lariam.
1. National Medical Services, toxicology report
2. Lariam Action USA, www.lariaminfo.org
3. The Chicago Tribune, Soldier a casualty of life as a civilian, published April 27,2006

ed: Some contextual additions were added to my e-mail. None to Ms. Torok’s. While Ms Torok’s research is not peer reviewed, it appears accurate, well-written and worthy of a wider audience.

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