Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Study will probe vet suicide risk, omega-3s

Oct. 8, 2012 - 09:11AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 8, 2012 - 09:11AM  |  
  • Filed Under

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A $10 million study will investigate if a substance found in fish oil can reduce the risk of suicide among military veterans, where the rate is higher than in the population as a whole.

The three-year study of omega-3 fatty acids was announced Monday by the Medical University of South Carolina, the Veterans Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

In the controlled study being conducted for the Army, veterans already receiving mental health services will be given smoothies high in omega-3s for a six-month period. Others will be given a placebo.

Omega-3s are the main fats in the brain and essential for neural function and normal brain development, said Bernadette Marriott, a professor in the Institute of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and the principal investigator in the study.

"Through other studies it's been found that they can help improve depression significantly," she said.

The Veterans Administration estimates that 20 percent of the suicides in the nation are committed by veterans and that the rate among vets is almost twice as high as in the general population.

"One of the questions this study hopes to address is do we see a clinical effect that is strong enough that the military would then consider providing supplements to all military personnel, not just those who are already experiencing depression?" she said.

"This study will inform whether or not that is something we should think about doing or studying," agreed Ron Acierno, a co-investigator at MUSC and the nearby Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center. He said the study will help researchers decide if this is an avenue they should be investigating.

"If the intervention shows effects with people who are at risk, we then back it out a step and say here we have a minimal side-effect, inexpensive intervention that helps people with risk factors. Does it work for everybody?"

Acierno noted that suicide rates among veterans are high both for those who have been deployed to war zones as well as those who have not.

He said it's not really clear why, although the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs devote a lot of resources to help those who may have been scarred by combat. But there is also stress for those who don't get into combat.

"The military as an occupation is not a low-stress job," he said. "They interact with dangerous equipment and in dangerous conditions under training conditions of extreme stress. If you combine that with the stresses of daily life it may exacerbate what may have already been a depression or a suicidality."

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Air Force Times

This Week's Air Force Times

Top 5 bases
Recreation, low-cost housing make these stations stand out

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook