ECT as Repetitive Electrical Trauma, ALS & Increased Veterans’ Suicide; An Open Letter to President Biden

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Dear Mr. President, 

Thank you for your work to help people living with ALS. In honor of Memorial Day, could you please take a moment to respect Brigadier General Thomas Mikolajcik, United States Air Force (Deceased), by creating a registry of all veterans & civilians with a history of repeated/lengthy exposure to pulsed electric fields?

In the 2007 Congressional hearing on Gulf War Syndrome, Mr. Mikolajcik proposed that to better understand ALS, we should study people like me who have a history of chronic exposure to electrical injury. We hold the key to understanding sporadic ALS development.

This year a study examining 20 years of Medicare data identified people with a history of Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Researchers discovered that like the late Mr. Mikolajcik suggested, people history of 10+ treatments have more than double the risk of developing ALS before the age of 65, and triple the risk of developing ALS after age 65. 

I had more than 10x that number of ECT treatments.

I had 116. I’m only 47 and have been using a power wheelchair and speech generating device for the past two years. 

Auditing ECT we will be better able understand long-term consequences will address 2 critical issues facing our nations veterans: ALS & Suicide

According to a 2020 article by Petlzman examining Veteran’s Health Admin records, Veterans with mental health concerns who receive ECT are nearly six times more likely to suicide than veterans with mental health concerns who do not receive ECT. 

Though many say ECT’s only given to the sickest patients, Petlzman article states most ECT given by VHA is given outside continental US, 95% of which is done in Puerto Rico. Either service members in Puerto Rico are more sick than anywhere else in the world, or something needs to be investigated. Veterans getting MH care in PR are suiciding nearly 6x more than peers.

Auditing ECT will help ALS & Veteran suicide. 

Respectfully, 

Sarah Price Hancock, MS, CRC

Read accompanying post: ECT as Repetitive Electrical Trauma, ALS & Increased Veterans’ Suicide


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Sarah P. Hancock

Sarah Price Hancock, MS, CRC, lived for nearly two decades misdiagnosed with severe mental illness. She was given 116 bilateral ECT treatments and now lives with delayed electrical injury. Sarah holds a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling and taught for four years in San Diego State University’s Rehabilitation Counseling program. She also hosts The Emotional Self-Reliance Podcast and guest lectures on psychiatric recovery.