Anti-suicide nasal spray

The US Army is funding the development of a hormone nasal spray that they hope may ease depression and lift suicidal thoughts. Indiana University medical researcher Dr. Michael Kubek co-discovered a hormone, called TRH, that has anti-depressant properties but isn't effective when ingested or injected. With the army funding, Kubek hopes to create a TRH nasal spray so the hormone can cross the blood-brain barrier. “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," Kubek said. "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.” "Can nasal spray help prevent military suicides?"


  1. The link between depression and suicide isn’t as simple as all that.   Suicide can be linked to a range of different factors.   Better that the military focuses on proper suicide prevention programs rather than trying to overmedicate the problem away.

    1. If you are working on a nasal spray because oral drugs don’t work fast enough, I strongly suspect that you (whether by preference or by necessity) don’t really get to play the ‘let’s disentangle all those tricksie interrelated social, biological, and chemical factors’ game for long enough to be useful…

    2. Since one fifth of military deaths are suicides, I imagine they would already be working hard to prevent suicide with whatever programs they can. And isn’t the proper suicide prevention program the program that prevents suicides. If they have to use medication, then they should use medication. Whence in this article do you get the idea that they’re trying to “overmedicate?”
      A nasal spray that could get a person out of a suicidal mindset would be a little miracle as far as I’m concerned, and it would be a great addition to the psycho-pharmacological arsenal. Heck, if it works 50% better than a placebo it’d still be an improvement over the current anti-depressants.

      1. Also, psychologists can be total drama queens if you place them in aqueous suspension, package them in metered-dose single-use tubes, and ship them by the crate to Forward Operating Base #5421, Ethniclashistan.

        (On the civilian side, you at least have much easier access to psychologists with waiting lists who don’t accept your insurance, if any, but acute presentation is quite likely to land you in a warm and welcoming ER, rarely a cheerful prospect…)

      2.  Relying on  medication alone isn’t the answer.   And the actual therapy programs used to prevent suicides have always been downplayed in favour of the chemical approach.   The fact that  suicide is on the rise despite the easy availability of medication (which can be dispensed by any army medical doctor regardless of speciality) likely says it all.   Dispensing an all-purpose nasal spray and hoping that it solves the problem by itself seems ill-advised at best.

        1. Quick acting nasal spray can give more time for proper therapy to work. That’s the point. You’ve obviously never suffered from suicidal depression.

    3. For the prevention of suicide, I have always found that the avoidance of high-stress, life-threatening situations which require me to kill other people is rather effective.

  2. You know what’s even more effective at preventing military suicides than a nasal spray? Stopping war.

  3. They’re close but I think they’re a letter off. What they aught to be looking for is a THC nose spray. 

  4. I love it when Star Trek “Future Historians” get it right. In the first season of Star Trek The Next Generation Q came to the Enterprise and changed to various military costumes (er uniforms) of the past. In one of them he was a solider who sniffed Narcotics of some sort to keep him going.

    Here is a link to the photo, note where he is putting the Narcotics in.
    World War III

    Rising from the ashes of the Eugenics Wars of the mid-1990s, the era of World War III was a period of global conflict on Earth that eventually escalated into a nuclear cataclysm and genocidal war over issues including genetic manipulation and Human genome enhancement. World War III itself ultimately lasted from 2026 through 2053, and resulted in the death of some 600 million Humans. By that time, many of the planet’s major cities and governments had been destroyed. (ENT: “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”; Star Trek: First Contact; VOY: “In the Flesh”)
    Q  as a soldier of one of the armies of World War III
    The war was fought in an era where various factions were known to control their military with narcotics.

    1. No real need to go to the future for that. WWII had plenty of amphetamines and methamphetamine to go around. Not any sort of subtle-mind-control-drug thing; but Our Boys Need Fuel For Killing, and reasonably safe and very peppy stimulants fit the bill.

  5. Someone along there has got to have wondered whether it’s useful against suicide bombers.
    Anyone seeing the release of large canisters of this over cities just in case….

    Oh hang on, better sniff my paranoia spray again…

  6. You know what might be a tremendously more  useful way to spend this money? 
    Hire more people to help the soldiers deal with their problems, instead of just assuming there is a quick easy fix to the issue.

    I have a vague memory of a PBS show, Need to Know (IIRC), where they interviewed a wife who retold the story of her husband spiraling out of control and when he tried to get help was put on hold, and told it would be 2 weeks before anyone could see him.  The story ends poorly for him and his family.

    How long does a Congresscritter have to wait to get medical help?
    Why do the people working for the nation actually risking their lives not have the same level of care as a bunch of old men and women who do nothing but sit around, bicker and look for new ways to enrich themselves and their friends?

    We have money for a bridge to no where, but they were sending soldiers to mold filled hospitals.  We have millions to have ICE work as private security for the media cartels, but we don’t have enough beds to provide care to these men and women?

    How many more hospital facilities would could we have if we stopped pouring money into TSA to be wasted on machines that did not work, do not work, will not work, and are still being delivered and paid for to be warehoused while the TSA plays games to hide them and the waste of billions of dollars paid to firms who have ex-congresscritters extolling the virtues of the snake-oil?

    You don’t have to be pro-war or anti-war on this issue.  These are people who in their time of need are being screwed over by a bunch of bloated asses, who should be thankful that they answered the call and need to get their asses in gear to take immediate action to stop these needless suicides.

    1. In general I would agree, certainly access to affordable mental health care, or affordable health care of any kind is an enormous issue.

      However, I suspect hiring more military personal to help soldiers “deal with” their problems might not help.  If the choice is to go visit the psychologist hired by the Army to help one deal with the consequences of the maddening policies that the Army itself is enforcing, were I a soldier, I’d opt for the nasal spray.

      What I would want, in my unicorn filled universe of rainbows and ribbons, is for the Army to stop enacting psyche destroying (village destroying, community destroying life destroying…) policies while engaged in pointless, ill-defined resource wars that secure the safety of exactly no one. If I can’t have that, I’ll take narcotics over reconditioning any day.

      The problem isn’t with the soldiers ability to cope but rather with nature of what soldiers are being called upon to do.

      1. They do not have enough doctors, they do not have enough beds, they do not have any freaking clue.
        I would rather see money spent to find civilian doctors to intervene than wait for some magical nasal spray to do its thing.

        They are being called on to do their job, like it or hate it as much as we might – they answered the call it is our responsibility to make sure they get the care they need.  I’m not talking about treat them and street them or make them be okiedokie with what they have done, I am talking about keeping them from eating a handgun. 

        The mental scars run deep but to derail into well if they didn’t do it in the first place really pulls attention away from the simple fact some of these soldiers are eating their handguns and some are hurting others.  Now is not the time to debate if what they are doing is right or wrong and why… Now is the time to take action and fix the mess we are leaving them in rather than making sure we accurately assign the blame on the morons who took us to war first.

        Your house is on fire, shall we look for the reasons first or act now to put the fire out and stop it from spreading then figure out why it started? 

        1. My post was less about assigning blame than in acknowledging the larger issues that would contribute to a astronomically high suicide rate – using your analogy, if the house is on fire because it keeps getting lit on fire then, yes, this is relevant.

          There is no arguing that the soldiers need every bit of help they can get. And I am not suggesting that the Army should idly twiddle its thumbs while soldiers continue to commit suicide. But, with antidepressants often taking weeks to work and talk therapy dependent on finding a single therapist the patient trusts (and still having dubious short-term results) a faster acting anti-depressant is hardly a foolish or irresponsible pursuit.

          Unlike talk-therapy, it doesn’t require a search into the cause or meaning behind the suicidal idiation (something that might be fruitless given their current jobs). As such, if you’re looking to immediately impact the chance a soldier will commit suicide, without changing any of the variables that led to that state, then this is the way to go.

          1. And with a grain of salt, as it was on the news tonight, the rate of suicides is now 1 a day. (IIRC)

            And a phone bank setup just so people can talk to someone who understands got funding for 6 more months… and they get a scary number of calls.

            The project giving service dogs to veterans is now possibly quiet screwed because they decided it needed certain standards that will make it even harder and take even longer for dogs to be placed.

            While they could use a fast acting nasal spray for quick help, the fact they appear to refuse to fund the basic needs and react to the overwhelming number of people needing help but they can fund a nasal spray that might not even work.

            If someone calls seeking help talking about suicidal thoughts and the response is… take a number and wait 2 weeks that system is broken.  This isn’t a sudden influx of these cases, it has been growing over time and only because someone decided to run some stories showing the issues at play are they suddenly having enough money to fund research.

            I see this nasal spray as another “see we fixed it” moment. 
            Pedophiles on the internet, we passed stupid laws and see that fixed it.
            Terrorists took down planes, we took away your civil rights and see that fixed it.

            None of these things fix the underlying problems, but those aren’t showy enough for the right sound bites.  Once they have fully funded and staffed treatment centers, call centers, what ever it takes to try and stop the shocking number of deaths… then its time to work on improving the treatments and finding ways to avoid war…

    1. Oh dammit, now it looks like I copied your joke… gotta learn to read through the comments first.

  7. The point of a fast acting depressant vector (nasal spray) like this one – Only way to get the drug INTO the body – Soldiers that are prescribed this particular drug are IN THE FIELD. Active combat soldiers do not have the luxury of on-going therapy for their depression during active service – they have a job to do.

    Traditional treatment regimens use drugs like Citalopram that can take many months to stabilize in a person’s system, and have deleterious side of effects which include excessive sleepiness, and INCREASED bouts of depressive thought scenarios where the patient wishes for their own death as a way out.

    This drug will do much to keep those men and women fighting and working in the field healthy and sane enough to do their jobs, and keep them alive long enough to make it back home – then they can undergo normalized therapies, and on top of that – have the LOve and support of their families and Loved one’s to help them through the Slog of fighting your way back to normal emotional states.

    1. This drug will do much to keep those men and women fighting…

      That alone is reason to ban it.

  8. As usual, the approach with depression and suicide should almost always start with therapy, progressing to medication if necessary. There should be a lot more mental health resources for soldiers for sure, but I don’t think this is taking money away from it, or is being considered a “quick fix”. It might be considered that way to some people, but I don’t think if you have a suicidal soldier you’re going to be like “Here’s some spray, kthxbye!” especially as the suicides continue to mount. We can only hope that the high suicide rate is solved and is addressed by more initiatives, but at least there’s one initiative going.

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