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Can Nasal Spray Stop Suicidal Thoughts In Troops?

Stephanie Farmer, widow of Army Spc. Josh Farmer, who committed suicide in 2009.
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Above: Stephanie Farmer, widow of Army Spc. Josh Farmer, who committed suicide in 2009.

Could something as simple as nasal spray help stem the rising tide of suicides among service members and veterans? The U.S. Army thinks so - and has awarded a scientist at the Indiana University School of Medicine a $3 million grant to develop such a spray.

Dr. Michael Kubek is associate professor of anatomy and cell biology and of neurobiology at IU. His area of expertise is with a neurochemical called TRH, which stands for thyrotropin-releasing hormone. TRH acts as an antidepressant in the brain, and can only be administered by nasal spray.

Kubek says if the nasal spray is properly developed, it could provide an innovative way to help suicidal troops get the medicine they need:

"Today’s commonly used anti-depressants can take weeks to have an effect and carry a black box warning label for suicidal ideation in young adults. That is why we hope to develop a quick-acting, easy-to-use, non-invasive system that delivers a compound that’s been shown to reduce suicidal thoughts.”

Military leaders have said suicide is an epidemic in the U.S. military. As Home Post reported last month, active-duty service members have been committing suicide at a rate of one per day since the start of the year. Pentagon statistics showed 154 active-duty troops killed themselves in the first 155 days of 2012.

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