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‘Anti-Suicide Spray' Research Receives $3m Grant From The Pentagon

The suicide rate in the US Army has reached an alarming level, with more than one a day occurring this July.

To tackle the worrying trend, The Pentagon has given research into an ‘anti-suicide’ nasal spray a $3m (£1.9m) grant.

The project is being developed at the University of Indiana’s School of Medicine.

Lead researcher Dr Michael Kubek claims that a chemical compound based on a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is capable of almost-instantly cheering people up.

He told The Daily: “We've known since the 1970s that TRH has antidepressant effects, and it works quite rapidly. The bottom-line problem has been figuring out how to get it into the brain.”

But he emphasised that it wouldn’t replace anti-depressants.

He added: “The phase directly after starting an antidepressant is very vulnerable time frame in a patient's life. The nasal spray would stabilise them right away, while they wait for the anti-depressants to do their job.”

Dr Sandrine Dupre, a research associate in The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences, told The Huffington Post UK: “TRH is an important chemical in the brain which has a central role in the regulation of many physiological processes.

"It is known to play a key role in helping the body produce thyroid hormones when it senses levels circulating in the blood have dropped – abnormal concentrations of thyroid hormones have been associated with depression.

“TRH administered as a nasal spray in rats has been shown to be an effective way of targeting the brain and had anti-seizure effects but the exact mechanisms involved are still not fully understood. The multi-functionality of this neuropeptide also makes it difficult to predict if the proposed anti-depression treatment will have an effect.”

General Lloyd J Austin III, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, said earlier this year that in a career spanning 37 years, suicides were the toughest enemy that he’d ever faced.

The suicide rate among US soldiers is around 40% higher compared to civilians of a similar age – and there are more deaths from suicide than from combat or vehicle accidents, according to USA Today.