Military developing anti-suicide nasal spray as deaths hit record numbers
SPRAY OF HOPE
By Katie Drummond Friday
August 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.
“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.