Photo: Jason Uhlig via Dvidshub
Later this month, experts from the defence Sciences Office (DSO) of the defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are going to meet in Arlington, Va., in the hopes of crunching numbers to find a way to predict when someone might commit suicide.Suicide prevention is a big deal to the military, given that in July they lost 56 service members–almost two a day–to suicide.The Army held a “suicide stand down” Sept. 27 to address the ever-growing suicide rate.
The DARPA doctors think they can find solutions, they told Lifescience. One idea getting tossed around is to track people throughout stressful situations like divorces. They might screen soldiers upon starting basic training, and then again before and after deployments. If the screenings suggested it was necessary, psychologists could follow up with further testing.
Technology could also play a role, in hooking up particularly at-risk troops to electroencephalography (EEG) machines or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners. Service members could wear helmets or sleep caps with EEG systems to monitor brain patterns.
Some of these solutions could be tough to implement, since the surveys and interviews are emotionally invasive, and the monitoring machines are expensive. And someone would have to be actively monitoring the results for them to do any good.
But considering the Army has already lost 237 Soldiers, the Marine Corps has lost 32 Marines, the Air Force has lost 32 Airmen, and the Navy has lost 44 Sailors, the military might be ready to make the investment.
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