REPORT: DoD Releases Annual Suicide Report for 2011

DoD Publishes 2011 Annual Suicide Report

by Drs. David Luxton, Janyce Osenbach, Mark Reger, Derek Smolenski, Nancy Skopp, Nigel Bush, Gregory Gahm
Department of Defense, Dec. 21, 2012

Read the full report:

Department of Defense Suicide Event Report 2011

Senate Approves Amendment Forcing New Unified DoD Suicide Prevention Program; House Vote Pending

Senate Passes Murray Measure to Reform Defense Suicide Prevention Programs

by Adam Ashton
The News Tribune, Dec. 5, 2012

The Senate this week passed an amendment that would reshape the Defense Department’s behavioral health and suicide prevention programs, compelling each service to adopt common practices.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., submitted the provision to the $631 billion defense authorization bill. Her amendment mirrors a bill she submitted in June.

“This is a major step forward in Congress really focusing on the issue of mental health of our service members, and it has not been done before,” Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said today.

Her proposal seeks to standardize the Defense Department’s varied suicide prevention programs. Each branch of the armed forces takes its own approach, according to a 2011 RAND Corp. study.

The Army, Navy and Marines lack formal policies to restrict troubled service members from obtaining lethal means, and none of the armed services offer guidelines describing the benefits of reaching out for help, according to the RAND study.

Murray’s amendment also takes steps to streamline the sharing of records between the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs; it encourages both the Pentagon and the VA to hire combat veterans as peer counselors for service members in behavioral health programs; and it expands access to behavioral health programs for the families of service members.

“It really is prevention,” she said. “It helps us by reaching out to the family members who are on the front lines, and the peer-to-peer counseling, which we know is a really important part, but is not part of the services today,” she said.

Suicides in the military started climbing considerably in 2005, and the trend has not abated despite major investments in new programs and outreach efforts across the services.

This year, the number of suspected Army suicides reached 166 by October, surpassing the 2012 total of 165.

Murray’s amendment has one more hurdle to being adopted. It has to go to a review by the House Armed Services Committee before the House and Senate can negotiate the differences between their separate defense bills.

Read the rest of this story:

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/military/2012/12/05/senate-passes-murray-measure-to-reform-defense-suicide-prevention-programs/

REBLOG: Blast Exposures Linked to “CTE” Brain Injuries, May Explain Some Military Suicide Cases Doctors Say

U.S. Marine Cpl. Burness Britt, wounded June 4, 2011 in an IED blast near Sangin, Afghanistan, is part of a growing number of veterans thought to be at risk for a unique brain injury known as CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Doctors say CTE injuries may increase suicide risk, but there is no known method to diagnose CTE outside of autopsy. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

U.S. Marine Cpl. Burness Britt, wounded June 4, 2011 in an IED blast near Sangin, Afghanistan, is part of a growing number of veterans thought to be at risk for a unique brain injury known as CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Doctors say CTE injuries may increase suicide risk, but there is no known method to diagnose CTE outside of autopsy. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)


Veterans and Brain Disease

by Nicholas D. Kristof

New York Times, April 25, 2012

Note: Recent new reports from Boston University have been published and offer significant new insight to this serious medical condition.

He was a 27-year-old former Marine, struggling to adjust to civilian life after two tours in Iraq. Once an A student, he now found himself unable to remember conversations, dates and routine bits of daily life.

He became irritable, snapped at his children and withdrew from his family. He and his wife began divorce proceedings.

This young man took to alcohol, and a drunken car crash cost him his driver’s license.

The Department of Veterans Affairs diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D.

When his parents hadn’t heard from him in two days, they asked the police to check on him. The officers found his body; he had hanged himself with a belt.

That story is devastatingly common, but the autopsy of this young man’s brain may have been historic.

It revealed something startling that may shed light on the epidemic of suicides and other troubles experienced by veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His brain had been physically changed by a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E. That’s a degenerative condition best-known for affecting boxers, football players and other athletes who endure repeated blows to the head.

In people with C.T.E., an abnormal form of a protein accumulates and eventually destroys cells throughout the brain, including the frontal and temporal lobes. Those are areas that regulate impulse control, judgment, multitasking, memory and emotions.

That Marine was the first Iraq veteran found to have C.T.E., but experts have since autopsied a dozen or more other veterans’ brains and have repeatedly found C.T.E. The findings raise a critical question: Could blasts from bombs or grenades have a catastrophic impact similar to those of repeated concussions in sports, and could the rash of suicides among young veterans be a result?

Read the rest of this story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/26/opinion/kristof-veterans-and-brain-disease.html

Note: Burness Britt, the Marine pictured above, survived the IED blast and is back in the United States recovering from his wounds.

Read a related story of Burness Britt’s photograph and his struggles to recover from his serious injury:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2078187/Injured-Marine-Cpl-Burness-Britt-recounts-blast-nearly-killed–vows-return-battlefield.html

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers