Friday, September 13, 2019 -
A Navy veteran (John Weigel), struggling to pay off his medical bills said he was contemplating suicide while speaking at a Bernie Sanders town hall in Carson City, Nevada. The veteran said Friday his Tricare was taken away. This left him with more than $130,000 worth of medical bills.
As you will hear in the video below (courtesy of CNN):
John Weigel: I can barely take care of myself. And I do not have the energy to fight these people...
Bernie Sanders: How are you going to pay off a hundred...
John Weigel: I can't. I can't. I'm going to kill myself...
Bernie Sanders: Hold it, John. Stop it. You're not going to kill yourself. All right. Stop it...
John Weigel: I can't deal with this. I have Huntington's disease.
Watch the full exchange. Article continues below.
No matter what your political color or stance is, we must do more for our people who are suffering like John Weigel. Sadly, within the Huntington's disease community the rate of suicide is on the rise.
As per the HDSA website: "Studies of suicide in HD have largely focused on the proportions of deaths attributable to suicide. These studies have produced quite varied results with rates between 0.6% and 10.1% of deaths in those with HD (Fiedorowicz, Mills, Ruggle, Langbehn, & Paulsen 2012). The overall suicide rate is about one percent so it is increased in HD by up to ten times the national average."
In 2017, the Huntington's Disease Parity Act was finally reintroduced. As per the HDSA on the Parity Act: "Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) reintroduced the Huntington’s Disease Parity Act (HR. 2589) in the House of Representatives. Simultaneously, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), along with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), reintroduced the legislation in the Senate (S. 1197). The Huntington’s Disease Parity Act is a bipartisan bill that ensures Medicare is made available to people with Huntington’s disease (HD) immediately upon qualification for disability."
According to "Suicidality in Huntington's Disease" (pg. 12) by Hubers, Anna Alida Maria (Marloes):
"Compared with the general population, the risk of dying by suicide was 2 to 8 times higher in HD."
Hubers set out to study a large number of HD patients across time to understand suicide in HD. Hubers wonders - what factors lead to HD mutation carriers thinking of, or attempting, suicide? About 20% of HD mutation carriers studied by Hubers, whether or not they have symptoms of HD, thought of suicide in the last month. The studies Hubers is conducting suggest that HD patients who report being depressed seem to have higher risk of suicide. Hubers recommends HD patients with depression should be carefully watched for signs of thinking of suicide, based on increased risk.