Fish Oil, Nasal Spray and Apps … Welcome to the Business of Military Suicide

Military Spending $10 Million to Learn if Fish Oils Prevent Suicide Among Veterans

The U.S. Department of Defense will spend $10 million on a three-year study investigating whether daily doses of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, can help curb the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans, researchers said on Monday.

by Christin Hsu, Oct. 9, 2012

The U.S. Department of Defense will spend $10 million on a three-year study investigating whether daily doses of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, can help curb the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans, researchers said on Monday. 

The new clinical trial is expected to commence in January as part of the military’s heightened focus on suicide prevention as the number of service members attempting to commit suicide has dramatically increased.   

Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that there were 17,754 suicide attempts among veterans last year, up from 10,888 in 2009.

Statistics reveal that more soldiers committed suicide in July of this year than ever before since the U.S. Army began tracking such deaths, with 26 active-duty soldiers believed to have taken their own lives.

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Army Bets $3Million on Anti-Suicide Nasal Spray as Deaths Hit Record Numbers

By Katie Drummond, Aug. 17, 2012

As the suicide rate among soldiers climbs to the highest levels in history, the Army is hoping Americans might one day treat their mental health woes with a single sniff.

The Army has just handed a $3 million grant to researchers at the University of Indiana’s School of Medicine for the creation of an anti-suicide nasal spray.

The project, to be led by Dr. Michael Kubek, an associate professor of neurobiology, is arguably one of the more unusual military efforts to thwart a record number of suicides among active-duty personnel and veterans.

“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said this week in announcing new suicide numbers. Austin is spearheading his service’s efforts to find ways to halt the surge in suicides.

This is a brilliant idea.

— Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

“That said, I do believe suicide is preventable,” Austin added. “To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills.”

According to Kubek and his colleagues, a snort of their suicide-stopping neurochemical — a naturally occurring compound called thyrotropin-releasing hormone, or TRH — could be the solution.

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iPhone App Introduced to Aid in Military Suicide Prevention gathered a group of experts in emotional resiliency to develop a free app to address the increasing number of suicides among active duty military and veterans.

PRWEB, Dec. 6, 2011

Woodbury, NY (PRWEB) — Suicides of active service members as well as veterans are increasing at an alarming rate, many due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A recent study indicates that, on average, a U.S. veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes. reports that in fiscal 2009, 1,868 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan succumbed to suicide. In addition, hundreds of active service members take their lives each year.

In response to this heartbreaking trend, has developed a free suicide prevention app, for the iPhone called Operation Reach Out for people who may be thinking about suicide as well as family and friends concerned about someone else.

Help is just a touch away on their smartphone.

— Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D., creator of the new military suicide prevention App

The app is currently offered free on the iTunes store and an Android version will be available in the next few weeks.

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Military, VA Release Mobile App for PTSD Therapy

By Rebecca Ruiz
NBC News, Aug. 2, 2012

The military has released a new mobile app designed for post-traumatic stress disorder patients in a therapy known as prolonged exposure.

PE Coach was developed by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and offers users a mobile way of assessing symptoms, recording therapy sessions, receiving reminders for homework and appointments and learning more about PTSD.

The app is available on Apple and Android devices, but is advised for use only when a patient is receiving professional prolonged exposure therapy.

That type of treatment focuses on “exposure practice,” or approaching situations the patient has been avoiding because they seem unsafe or are related to the trauma that brought on PTSD. For veterans, this might include avoiding crowded public places or congested traffic.

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3 Responses

  1. As it was in the beginning, history continues to confirm that humanity is now and ever shall be unwilling to face the reality that all behavior has certain known consequences. And as this pertains to war, our continued denial that we will always have the wounded among our warriors, and that the ranks of our wounded will continue to swell throughout the war fighting, and well beyond, shows our cowardice to simply look at the facts.
    War has Immutable Consequences: There will always be some level of casualties among those who fight our wars.

    Society, civilians and those who serve, must realize that:
    1. The military is not, nor has it ever been a “social service” agency. The military is first and foremost charged to protect and defend this nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Anyone who joins the military has effectively signed a blank check to this nation “for an amount of up and to their life”.

    2. The military has “X” amount of dollars to use to cover everything including care i.e., physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual care.
    3. All officers are expected to put the mission first, which means that the needs of their troops collectively and individually, must be weighed in context to the mission. Military caregivers, such as doctors, therapists, chaplains, and others share equally in the requirement of their fellow officers to “put the mission first”. Therefore, they are expected to do everything possible to keep those boots on the ground moving forward on mission. And this literally translates into slapping as many physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual Band-Aids on Johnny and Jane in order to meet mission.
    4. In reality, like vehicles, weapons, and other property acquired by each branch of the services is based on certain qualities and attributes needed to perform various missions. Our troops are simply a form human property acquired too because of their qualities and attributes which are needed to achieve various branch specific missions. AND-like any other equipment, whether it has reached its mandatory “sell by date” or in need of repairs that outweigh the benefit to the military, they are disposed of. You don’t have to like it-but its reality-and the way it has to be, unless we want to add a “social service” agency requirement to an already strained military mission.
    1. The military’s efforts to create a pharmaceutical” solution to administer to troops heading into battle, to numb them to the mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges of war, and thus create sociopathic warriors, is at best damnable. The administration of such a solution would forever rob them of their God given humanity, and most certainly deny them the chance to ever return home in as a healthy member of society. And if we’ve learned anything from the “experiments” we have conducted on our troops-much of which is denied-until the proof becomes impossible to acknowledge, a pharmaceutical solution of this magnitude must never be used upon our troops.
    2. There is no “one-size” fits all solution to “fix” the emotional, spiritual, and mental wounds carried by those who have fought our nation’s wars. Every human, is unique in design, and has his/her own individual physical mental, emotional, and spiritual, characteristics. Through some basic testing, we know something about the mental/educational level, aptitudes, moral/legal history, and general physical status of those who are attempting to join the military. However, despite the knowledge we have of those who are accepted into the ranks of our military, we know very little about their psychological status, spiritual and moral belief systems. These “unknowns” are in reality the primary factors that will in the end greatly impact their resilience to the natural effects of war.
    3. In their feeble attempts to remove the yolk of blame for the historically high suicides rates and mental/emotional health crisis within their ranks, our “Echelons Above Reality”, senior military leaders have shown themselves to be comfortable in taking reactionary driven, defensive positions far removed from reality of which they speak. Aside from their obvious tactical blunder of forgetting that “Wars are not won by playing defense”, their knee jerk responses, blame casting, and expensive, yet flaccid responses, to the public outcry about soldier suicides, and emotional injuries been 100% ineffective, and unnecessary.

    The Bottom Line Up Front
    The military must at all times be able to respond quickly and effectively to threats upon this nation, with the resources it has on hand. Military members who cannot perform their duties, and whose treatment needs exceed the limited care resources on hand threaten the ability of their unit to accomplish the mission. Providing for the long term mental, emotional and spiritual care for soldiers is and always has been outside of the scope of the military and runs counter to the mission of the military, and as such must come from non-military agencies. The responsibility for their long term care then falls upon the civilian government, and society who has called upon the services of our returning wounded warriors.

  2. Our vets need health resources to get better and prevent suicides, but this “fish story” has to be a joke. Unbelievable, but unfortunately, the military isn’t serious about preventing suicides and restoring the health and wellbeing of our injured warriors and their families.

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