• Primary Care and Emergency Providers Can Help Prevent Suicide
    Military Crisis Line

    An important finding about suicide is spurring a new approach to reducing it: In the month before they take their own lives, many people who die by suicide seek medical or psychological care.

    These patients don’t come to their local clinic or hospital for help with suicidal thoughts, but with other medical or mental health issues. They may have traumatic brain injury, or they could be depressed. They may have chronic health problems. They might have gone to the emergency department following a drug overdose. Those conditions are treated, but the patient is not necessarily assessed for suicidal risk.

    By evaluating all patients at risk of suicide no matter their reason for seeking care, immediately treating those at risk, and providing follow-up care, health care systems can substantially reduce suicides, presenters said at the 2015 summit of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    “The potential is there for primary and behavioral health providers to reduce suicide,” said Eileen F. Zeller, an official with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

  • Military Psychological Health, TBI Highlights from Research Symposium

    Last week military medical experts gathered at the Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to present information on research and health care advancements within the areas of combat casualty care, military operational medicine, clinical and rehabilitative medicine, and military infectious disease research programs. MHSRS is the Defense Department’s premier scientific meeting to address the unique medical needs of the warfighter. Also there — Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) leadership including center leaders and health experts to learn and present their research related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis and treatment.

  • Health Surveillance Center Informs Military on Mental Health Trends
    Service members stand in formation during Independence Day ceremony
    U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline

    The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center is the central source for Defense Department health surveillance information. It provides routine and customized analyses and reports to Defense policy makers, military commanders, service surgeons general and public health centers, researchers, and preventive medicine professionals.

    As Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Director Capt. Richard Stoltz wrote in the July issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, the flagship publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), the military health care system has made major strides in providing resources and access to mental health care for service members during the last 12 years of continued engagement in war. The AFHSC is part of that success as the center helps inform Department of Defense (DoD) policymakers and military medical personnel in their fight to prevent and treat illnesses among service members.

  • DCoE Monthly Wrap-Up: Brain Injury Awareness

    When you watch and read about people affected by traumatic brain injury (TBI), you can understand how the experience can be life changing—not only for the injured person, but also for those who care about them. Throughout March, we increased our efforts to make you aware of signs and symptoms of TBI and resources available for service members, families and providers. Here is a round-up of last month’s news highlights and resources:

    • How to Prevent TBI
      Do you always wear a helmet? A seat belt when you drive? In many cases, TBI can be prevented by taking simple precautions. Share these tips to help you and your loved ones reduce the chance of sustaining a brain injury.
  • Brig. Gen. Sutton Discusses Brain Injuries, Suicide Prevention and Medical Evaluations

    Members of the military who believe they may have had a concussion should always get a prompt medical evaluation – even if they think they don’t need it, according to Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, M.D.

    Sutton is director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and is the highest ranking psychiatrist in the U.S. Army. She was interviewed for the March 5 episode of “Dot Mil Docs,” a Web radio production of the Military Health System. The interview can be heard at

    “Get a brief medical assessment and determine whether you’re really in need of a little rest or whether you can go back,” Sutton said on the program. “It’s certainly possible to be exposed to an explosion and have no visible injury” so it is important “to document what has happened if an individual has felt dazed or confused.”