Suicidal Ideation & Ketamine

What is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation is a medical way of saying ‘suicidal thoughts’ or ‘thoughts about self-harm.’ These kinds of thoughts can be common for people suffering from the effects of depression or undergoing significant stress, but one thing to remember is that most people with suicidal thoughts do not actually take their own life. That being said, even one suicide is too many – continue reading to learn what you can do to help prevent suicides.

What is Suicide Prevention Week?

According to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, National Suicide Prevention Week is “the Monday through Sunday [September 6 through 10] surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a time to share resources and stories, as well as promote suicide prevention awareness.”

[Editor’s Note: The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call them at 1-800-273-8255 anytime.]

This week is an important opportunity for us to open the dialogue. Although in the past it’s been easy to stray from this conversation – either due to fear of stigma or judgment, or the worry that talking about suicide makes it more likely – we know now that one of the best ways to prevent suicide is by openly talking about it with one another.

#BeThe1To

#BeThe1To is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s message for National Suicide Prevention Month and beyond, which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. The Lifeline network and its partners are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help, and give hope.

Ask

Research shows people who are having suicidal thoughts feel relief when someone asks them about what they’re experiencing. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce, rather than increase, suicidal ideation.

Be There

Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to someone who listens without judgment. People dealing with suicidal ideation may only show warning signs to those closest to them, so being present is one of the most important preventative steps.

Keep Them Safe

A number of studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.

Help Them Stay Connected

Studies indicate that helping someone at-risk create a network of resources and individuals for support and safety can help them take positive action and reduce feelings of hopelessness.

Follow-Up

Studies have also shown that brief, low cost intervention and supportive, ongoing contact may be an important part of suicide prevention, especially for individuals who have been discharged from hospitals or care services.

What are the Warning Signs of Suicidal Ideation?

Although signs and symptoms may look different from person to person, keep an eye out for these in your loved ones:

  • Making a lot of jokes about suicide
  • Mood swings
  • Avoiding any social interaction
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Reckless or careless behavior
  • Giving away belongings or saying goodbyes

What Are The Risk Factors?

While these factors do not always cause suicidal ideation, they may contribute to those already suffering:

  • Family history of substance abuse, mental disorders, violence, or suicide
  • Feelings of isolation or hopelessness
  • Continually being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Having a psychiatric or mental disorder
  • Legal troubles
  • Family problems
  • Disciplinary struggles (especially in children)
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Sleep deprivation

Additionally, the following conditions are linked to a higher risk of suicidal thoughts:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bipolar Disorder/Depression
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance Abuse

Why Ketamine for Suicidal Ideation?

With traditional suicidal ideation treatments like antidepressants, it can sometimes take weeks or even months before a patient experiences relief from symptoms. In fact, many typical antidepressants only bring relief in around 35% of patients. Ketamine is a promising treatment option because in some cases it can provide relief from symptoms within days or even hours.

Ketamine for suicidal ideation treatment offers fast and efficient relief from the symptoms of clinical depression, with up to 75% of patients reporting a positive response to just a single ketamine infusion.

How Does Ketamine Help With Suicidal Ideation?

The exact mechanism that leads to ketamine treating the symptoms of suicidal ideation is still not entirely understood by research. It is hypothesized that it produces an antidepressant effect via targeting the NMDA receptors inside the brain. By connecting to those receptors, ketamine may be able to amplify the number of glutamate neurotransmitters in the empty space between neurons.

Glutamate then interacts with the AMPA receptors. Together, these receptors bring about the discharge of multiple molecules that boost the brain’s neuroplasticity — essentially, ketamine infusions allow the brain to reset and restore important nerve connections.

Conclusion

As our world slowly becomes more and more comfortable talking about mental health, many people still find it hard to talk about suicide. We invite you to join us in speaking up about suicide, speaking up about mental illness, and seeking out treatments for your loved ones who are in need.

To learn more about this innovative treatment option for depressive disorders and suicidal ideation, contact us today by calling 423-250-1995 or completing our free consultation form found on our website.

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