21st Century Scurvy? Solving the Suicide Scourge

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Could fish curb suicide, as citrus fruits curbed scurvy among sailors of the 18th and 19th centuries?

At first glance it sounds preposterous. Give Soldiers Omega 3, a substance found in fish oil, and they will stop killing themselves?

A leader in this research, Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, points out historical precedents. Sailors, after all, developed scurvy until they were given lemons and limes containing Vitamin C.

And there’s some science here, as well. There is increasing evidence of the roles that Omega 3 fatty acids play in the brain and body. A study on suicidal military patients found lower levels in their blood than in normal patients.

However, when so-called meta-analyses, or reviews of all the studies, were done, the data were inconclusive.

Which is why it is so important that good randomized controlled studies be done. This one, funded by the military but done with veterans as subjects, looks to be a good start.

Hopefully, they will keep casting a wide net, looking at all promising leads.