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Understanding the Connection Between U.S. Military Veteran Suicide, Biotoxin Exposure, and Traumatic Brain Injury

Every day, 22 military veterans in the United States make the devastating decision to end their lives. This chilling reality, 22 suicides per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, only reflects the known cases, excluding those masked as accidents due to feelings of shame or other factors.

The Impact of Biotoxin Exposure and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Mold and biotoxin-related illness pose significant risks to mental health, causing neuroinflammation, structural brain changes, and alterations in gene expression. These changes can trigger debilitating depression, anxiety, and persistent negative thoughts, increasing the risk of addiction, onset of various mental health conditions, and even the risk of suicide.


Military personnel are especially vulnerable to biotoxin exposure, often encountered in military base housing, barracks, deployment locations, and buildings with water intrusion histories. Additionally, the rigors of military service expose individuals to traumatic events like explosions, gunfire, and emotional trauma, leading to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Why We're Investigating

The profile of military personnel who die by suicide often aligns with symptoms of advanced mold/biotoxin-related illness. This correlation prompted us to question whether there's a link between biotoxin exposure, TBI, and suicide risk among military personnel.

Conducting the Research

Under the supervision of an Institutional Review Board (IRB), Dr. David Ross, Dr. Andrew Heyman, and Dr. Michelle van der Westhuizen are leading a study to explore how mold/biotoxin exposure affects the brain. Employing advanced imaging techniques and medical evaluations, this research aims to uncover the relationship between biotoxin exposure and brain changes that cause neuropsychiatric symptoms – symptoms that may increase the risk of suicide in military personnel, especially when the biotoxin exposure co-exists with a TBI.

The Environmental Brain Health Clinics of America (EBHC) is a co-sponsor of the study, along with the Virginia Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Dr. Andrew Heyman.

Dr. David Ross

Dr. David Ross

Dr. Michelle van der Westhuizen

Dr. Michelle van der Westhuizen

Dr. Andrew Heyman

Dr. Andrew Heyman

What Is An IRB?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) ensures that research involving human subjects adheres to ethical standards, safeguarding participants' rights, safety, and well-being. IRBs play a vital role in upholding ethical standards in medical research.

Why This Matters

The combination of biotoxin exposure and TBI can have devastating effects on individuals across all walks of life. For military personnel, the risks are compounded, potentially leading to tragic consequences. Proper diagnosis and treatment are paramount in addressing these challenges and preventing further loss.

How To Seek Help

If you or someone you know may be impacted by mold/biotoxin exposure, contact Environmental Brain Health Clinics of America for compassionate evaluation and support. Military veterans can inquire about tailored assessment opportunities at EBHC.


Together, we can honor the sacrifices of our military personnel by addressing the underlying factors contributing to their mental health challenges and working towards effective prevention and support strategies.

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