OPEN Foundation

R. Al Jurdi

Psychopharmacological Agents and Suicide Risk Reduction: Ketamine and Other Approaches


Suicide is a major global public health problem and the leading cause of injury mortality in the USA. Suicide is a complex phenomenon involving several systems and neurobiological pathways, with interacting genetic and environmental mechanisms. The literature on the neurobiology and pharmacotherapy of suicide has been limited. To date, no medications have proven efficacious for treating acute suicidal crises. There is an emerging literature supporting a rapid anti-suicidal effect of ketamine, a non-competitive N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist, among depressed patients with suicidal ideation. Potential ketamine’s anti-suicidal effect mechanisms are linked to interruption of the kynurenine pathway and modulating pro-inflammatory cytokines exacerbation. However, available data are not sufficient for its routine integration in clinical practice, and larger and replicated randomized control studies are needed.

Al Jurdi, R. K., Swann, A., & Mathew, S. J. (2015). Psychopharmacological Agents and Suicide Risk Reduction: Ketamine and Other Approaches. Current psychiatry reports, 17(10), 1-10.

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Antidepressant efficacy of ketamine in treatment-resistant major depression: a two-site randomized controlled trial


Synthesize and assess the available scientific evidence from the period 2008-2012 on interventions of demonstrated efficacy in the treatment and rehabilitation of adolescents and adults engaged in the problematic use of alcohol and other substances.

A systematic review was undertaken with search and analysis of national and international literature on the subject in Spanish and English in the main international databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, LILACS, Embase, PsycINFO, SciELO, the databases of the York University Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (DARE, ETS Database), the Cochrane Library, and other sources of gray literature. The search criteria included randomized clinical trials and systematic reviews but excluded observational studies, qualitative studies, and articles of poor methodological quality.

The final sample consisted of 69 studies. The psychosocial interventions shown to be effective were cognitive behavioral therapy, family interventions, self-help interventions using the Internet, couples behavioral therapy, community strengthening and family training, telephone monitoring and support, and integrated therapy for substance abuse disorder with anxiety and depression comorbidity. Pharmacological interventions of demonstrated effectiveness were acamprosate, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and benzodiazepines in problematic alcohol use, as well as maintenance therapy with high-dose opioids.

The demonstrated effectiveness of psychosocial and pharmacological interventions is slight but significant. However, strongly multidisciplinary interventions that use a cognitive behavioral approach and the involvement of people close to the consumer, as well as some of the specific pharmacological interventions, have been shown to yield the best results in terms of indicators of abstinence and prevention of relapses.

Murrough, J. W., Iosifescu, D. V., Chang, L. C., Al Jurdi, R. K., Green, C. E., Perez, A. M., … Mathew, S. J. (2013). Antidepressant efficacy of ketamine in treatment-resistant major depression: a two-site randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170(10), 1134-1142.
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