Depression and suicide rates in the military are at an all time high. It’s been estimated that more soldiers in America’s army are taking their own lives each day and surpassing the amount killed in combat.
On June 22, 2012, the Dept. of Defense released its May, 2012, Army suicide report. It reads in part:
During May, among active-duty soldiers, there were 16 potential suicides: four have been confirmed as suicides and 12 remain under investigation. For April, the Army reported 14 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, one case has been added for a total of 15 potential suicides: four have been confirmed as suicides and 11 remain under investigation. For 2012, there have been 78 potential active-duty suicides: 42 have been confirmed as suicides and 36 remain under investigation. Updated active-duty suicide numbers for 2011: 165 (confirmed as suicides and no cases remain under investigation).
Backed by these findings, the DoD has granted Dr. Michael Kubek, a scientist at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and his research team a $3 million dollar grant to produce a nasal spray that would help suppress thoughts of suicide. They’ve been given a term of three years to research the efficacy and safety of the medication and method of application.
Airman Evelyn Chavez
Staff Sgt. Chaya Fletcher, 51st Fighter Wing, receives the FluMist Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea
The neurochemical thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which occurs naturally, has been found to travel safely through the nasal passages and may be effective in reducing the escalating rate of suicide. With an antidepressant effect, the hormone has been proven successful in decreasing emotional problems, such as suicidal ideas and depression, as well as having an effect on bipolar disorders.
According to reports from RT, The Daily quoted Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness as stating, “The phase directly after starting an antidepressant is a very vulnerable time frame in a patient’s life. The nasal spray would stabilize them right away, while they wait for the [antidepressants] to do their job.”
Indiana University School of Medicine announced the grant on July 24, 2012. It details Dr. Kubek's research, including the possibilities of further use for children ages 6-12 months who suffer from a rare form of epilepsy.
Where this may end up for the civilian population is unclear, however. In the age group 18-65, suicide is now the 4th leading cause of death. Add in the young who are inexplicably taking their own lives after severe cases of bullying and there’s quite a bit of research to be done and possible uses to be found.