New Nasal Spray Could Help Put a Stop to Military Suicide Epidemic

military cemetaryIt's absolutely devastating: The suicide rate among U.S. military personnel has hit an all-time high, up 22% from last year. According to Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno, "more soldiers die by their own hand than are killed in combat or automobile accidents," with self-inflicted deaths doubling since the beginning of the War in Iraq. So it's no wonder the Army is spending $3 million on the development of an anti-suicide nasal spray thought to work by delivering fast-acting antidepressant chemicals straight to the brain.

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The spray contains the naturally occurring neurochemical thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which is known for its "euphoric, calming, antidepressant effect" and ability to help combat suicidal ideas, depression and bipolar disorders.

Interestingly, this isn't news -- researchers figured all this out about TRH back in the 70's. But until now, the only way to effectively administer the hormone was through injections to the spinal cord (taken in pill form or by standard injection, TRH can't enter the brain). The new nasal spray technology allows the TRH to pass through the blood-brain barrier and start working instantly, which could prove extremely useful in stabilizing patients during the time period before traditional anti-depressants kick in.

Hey, if it can offer some relief to the traumatized soldiers who sacrifice their physical, mental and emotional health for the sake of this country, I hope and pray this nasal spray works. Plus, the treatment wouldn't be restricted to military patients -- and the civilian suicide rate isn't exactly dropping, either.

Do you think this new anti-suicide nasal spray sounds promising?

 

Image via US Army Africa/Flickr

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