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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 09/25/2018 09:32:40

Good Morning.

We are all aware of the ongoing veteran's suicide crisis here in the United States. A long-used statistic states that about 20 veterans per day take their own lives. The story below is a few months old at this time, but it still contains some useful statistics for our purposes today.



The VA released its newest National Suicide Data Report on Monday [June 17 - ed.], which includes data from 2005 through 2015. Much in the report remained unchanged from two years ago, when the VA reported suicide statistics through 2014. Veteran suicide rates are still higher than the rest of the population, particularly among women.

In both reports, the VA said an average of 20 veterans succumbed to suicide every day. In its newest version, the VA was more specific.

The report shows the total is 20.6 suicides every day. Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty servicemembers, guardsmen and reservists, the report states. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 servicemembers who died by suicide in one year.

The VA's 2012 report stated 22 veterans succumbed to suicide every day -- a number that’s still often cited incorrectly. That number also included active-duty troops, Guard and Reserve, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said Wednesday.

VA officials determine the statistic by analyzing state death certificates and calculating the percentage of veterans out of all suicides. The death certificates include a field designating whether the deceased ever served in the U.S. military.

Information in the 2012 report wasn’t as complete as the newer ones. At the time, only 21 states shared information from their death certificates. California and Texas, which have large veteran populations, were two of the states that didn’t provide their data.

"Since that report was released, we have been closely collaborating with the [Department of Defense] to increase our level of accuracy in reporting," Cashour wrote in an email.


We've noted the support programs here many times, and our friends at IAVA have been a leader in outreach and publicity for quite some time now. But nevertheless - the number has remained steady despite everyone's best efforts.

A story this morning hints that a new drug may be able to help veterans at risk "within hours of administration". But it's actually an old drug. "Special K", or ketamine, seems to be showing some promise when administered in a clinical setting.


A pair of programs currently underway at a Veterans Affairs medical center in Cleveland aim to determine if a low-dose infusion of ketamine — the anesthetic that gained popularity for its street name ‘Special K’ in the 1960s and 70s — can help patients with treatment-resistant depression, and whether the drug can work as an emergency measure to help those at a high risk of suicide.

Spearheaded by Dr. Punit Vaidya, the ketamine project was one among dozens presented in late August during a Veterans Health Administration innovation event at the National Press Club in Washington. At the event, VHA employees gave ‘Shark Tank’-style presentations on projects at their clinics and fielded questions from a panel as they vied for funding to design, develop and scale their projects.

As a staff psychiatrist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio, Vaidya launched a program earlier this year to use ketamine infusion therapy as a way to expand treatment options for patients suffering from treatment-refractory depression — or in layman’s terms: severe cases of depression that don’t respond to antidepressants.

“Unfortunately about 30% of individuals with major depression don’t respond to medications,” Vaidya told T&P. “So people can become desperate for things that work, because they can have a huge impact on their quality of life, and their overall functioning.”

The ketamine infusion, administered intravenously over the course of six sessions in the span of three weeks is “off-label,” meaning it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an anesthetic, but not specifically designed for use in cases of treatment-resistant depression. According to Vaidya, a “handful” of veteran patients with treatment-resistant depression have participated in the project.

The effects of the ketamine infusion can often be seen within a day, if not hours, Vaidya explained.


Not to go all Conservative here, but haven't we all read reports of emergency personnel swooping down on an overdose victim and administering 3, 4, 5, or more doses of Narcan to reverse their condition and give them another chance? If this experiment with Ketamine proves successful, perhaps those most affected by depression might have that same chance as an overdose victim.


 

19 comments (Latest Comment: 09/25/2018 20:24:42 by wickedpam)
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