French trial finds modest short-term results


Suicide is a number one explanation for demise. There have been round 5,500 deaths by suicide registered in England and Wales (ONS, 2021); the numbers worldwide are round 70,000 (WHO, 2016). Suicidal acts are preceded by suicidal concepts, although most suicidal concepts is not going to result in a suicidal act. It’s a difficult space to review and now we have restricted evidence-based choices for treating people who find themselves experiencing a suicidal disaster.

Ketamine has been proven to have speedy results on depressive signs in unipolar melancholy (Yavi et al., 2022). There’s additionally been some information to counsel it has an impact on suicidal ideation, probably independently of its impact on different depressive signs. (Witt et al., 2020). Nonetheless, many earlier research weren’t designed to check a speculation of ketamine’s impact on suicidal ideation and so, this research aimed to enhance on that.

The authors hoped to look at the impact of ketamine on suicidal ideation in three teams of sufferers: these with a bipolar prognosis, these with a depressive dysfunction, and people with one other important prognosis. They hypothesised that ketamine can be higher than placebo for inducing remission of suicidal ideation at day 3 and that this is able to persist over 6 weeks.

Ketamine, which has evidence as a treatment for difficult-to-treat depression, may have a beneficial effect on suicidal ideation.

Ketamine, which has some rising proof as a therapy for difficult-to-treat melancholy, might have a helpful impact on suicidal ideation.


This was a six-week, double-blind, randomised placebo managed research undertaken in seven hospitals in France.

Individuals had been French-speaking adults who had been voluntarily admitted to the hospital psychiatrically for suicidal ideation (based mostly on Clinician rated scale of suicidal ideation (SSI) whole rating >3).

Key exclusion standards had been having a historical past of psychosis, substance dependence or proof of use of illicit substances (apart from hashish) and/or an unstable bodily sickness or bodily contraindication to ketamine.

Individuals and investigators had been blinded to the research arm. Individuals had been randomised to obtain a 40-minute IV infusion of 0.5mg/kg ketamine or a saline resolution, along with their present therapy. They obtained the second ketamine infusion 24 hours later. Observe-up was for six weeks, with frequent assessments within the first 3 days after infusion.

The first final result was the speed of sufferers with a clinical-rated SSI rating <=3 (full suicidal remission) at day 3 in every diagnostic group. The SSI is a scale assessing suicidal ideation based mostly on 19 objects, most rating of 38.


The trial recruited 156 contributors, who had been sufferers being admitted to a psychiatric ward. These had been the teams:

Placebo Ketamine
Bipolar dysfunction 26 26
Depressive dysfunction 30 26
Different diagnoses 27 21

Most sufferers had a previous historical past of endeavor a suicidal act and had extreme suicidal ideation when getting into the trial. The ‘different diagnoses’ group was a heterogeneous group, together with primarily individuals with totally different nervousness problems (PTSD, panic dysfunction, agoraphobia, social phobia) and consuming problems.

Major final result: suicidal ideation at day 3 measured by SSI

63% of sufferers within the ketamine arm vs 31.6% of sufferers within the placebo arm had “reached full remission of suicidal concepts at day 3” (odds ratio 3.7 [1.9 to 7.3] p<0.001). Apparently, the remission in suicidal ideation occurred 40 minutes post-infusion.

The outcomes seemed to be pushed by a giant distinction within the bipolar dysfunction group (84.6% post-ketamine vs 28% post-placebo). The variations in remission within the different teams weren’t vital: depressive dysfunction group: 42.3% post-ketamine vs 35.7% post-placebo; ‘different diagnoses’: 61.9% post-ketamine vs 30.8% post-placebo.

Secondary outcomes

These usually confirmed a larger discount in scores within the ketamine group versus the placebo group (e.g. hopelessness, melancholy scores).

By the top of the 6 weeks of the trial, suicidal remission post-ketamine was 69.5% vs 56.3% post-placebo; which was not statistically vital.

Adversarial occasions

There have been 6 suicide makes an attempt within the ketamine arm (8.2%) and eight within the placebo arm (9.8%); one affected person within the ketamine arm, sadly, died by suicide. These occasions occurred in individuals with a poor response to ketamine.

There have been no will increase in mania signs. Anticipated widespread negative effects of ketamine (sedation, depersonalisation, nausea) occurred at a larger frequency than within the placebo group.

In this randomised controlled trial of people with suicidal ideation, there was more remission of suicidal ideation in those receiving two ketamine infusions, compared to those receiving a placebo infusion.

This trial indicated extra remission of suicidal ideation within the brief time period (3 days) in these receiving two ketamine infusions, in comparison with these receiving a placebo infusion.


On this randomised managed trial, two infusions of IV ketamine had been related to remission in suicidal ideation at 3 days, in comparison with placebo, in a gaggle of sufferers with a mixture of diagnoses. The consequences had been most evident in sufferers with bipolar affective dysfunction.

Importantly, there have been no will increase in signs of mania in sufferers with bipolar dysfunction. It may be a fear that antidepressant therapy in sufferers with bipolar dysfunction can set off a ‘change’ to a manic state.

It’s notable that the speed of suicide makes an attempt was comparable between the ketamine and placebo group at 6 weeks. This appeared to happen in sufferers who had had a minimal response to ketamine. We have to be vigilant for an additional deterioration in hope in sufferers receiving a ‘new and thrilling’ therapy, which doesn’t work for them.

The effects of ketamine on suicidal ideation appeared most evident in people with bipolar affective disorder.

The consequences of ketamine on suicidal ideation appeared most evident in individuals with bipolar affective dysfunction.

Strengths and limitations

The protocol for this research was pre-registered on and the modifications in protocol are justifiable. It is a energy of open science. The authors carried out energy calculations and recruited adequate sufferers for this. Nonetheless, the diagnostic sub-groups had small numbers and this will have restricted the authors discovering a distinction, significantly within the ‘different diagnoses’ group.

There’s a large unmet want in relieving signs and misery acutely in sufferers presenting to the hospital with suicidal ideation. Furthermore, sufferers with present suicidal ideas and behaviours are sometimes excluded from analysis. This research demonstrates the feasibility of appropriately managing danger on this inhabitants of sufferers. An additional energy is that contributors within the research included nonpsychotic bipolar, depressive, and different problems. As such, it provides to the comparatively scarce proof base of ketamine in bipolar melancholy.

By way of limitations, in medication with a robust psychoactive impact like ketamine, it’s troublesome to separate out the impact of the drug from a placebo impact and expectancy results attributable to unblinding. Because the authors acknowledge, more moderen ketamine research typically use midazolam as a psychoactive placebo to try to keep the blind. Apparently, it’s an space of debate whether or not it’s life like or essential to exclude the placebo impact in medical analysis (Butler et al., 2022; Burke et al., 2021, 2022).

The loss-to-follow-up charge was fairly excessive in each arms; it’s unclear why. We have no idea if the discount in suicidal ideation is related to lowering suicidal acts, as proven on this research the place regardless of an impact of ketamine on suicidal ideation inside 72 hours, there have been comparable numbers of suicide makes an attempt in each ketamine and placebo group over 6 weeks. We should stay cautious of investigational remedies having uncommon however severe opposed results.

We do not know the effects of ketamine on the frequency of suicidal acts, as unfortunately there were a similar number of suicide attempts in the ketamine and placebo group over six weeks.

We have no idea the consequences of ketamine on the frequency of suicidal acts, as an identical variety of suicide makes an attempt within the ketamine and placebo group over six weeks had been observed.

Implications for follow

As a clinician, I’m all the time excited to learn analysis carried out in a real-world setting, which tries to handle points commonly grappled with in scientific follow. Individuals experiencing a suicidal disaster could be in a state of extreme psychological ache and any analysis that appears for how you can alleviate that is actually essential.

Can we begin prescribing ketamine to everybody who involves A&E with suicidal ideation? No. Nonetheless, as ketamine clinics (each NHS and personal) turn into extra commonplace within the UK, we must be ready to reply questions our sufferers have on this. We are able to clarify it’s an space of lively analysis, with some optimistic proof, however that is typically the case in early trials. Ketamine was principally properly tolerated on this trial, however there was sadly one one that took their very own life, and we is not going to know if dangers like this truly improve till bigger research are achieved. We are going to wish to see research like this replicated with larger numbers to have the ability to make any suggestions.

Research with patients with severe suicidal ideation can and must be done to improve the care we provide.

Analysis with sufferers with extreme suicidal ideation can and have to be achieved to enhance the care we offer.

Assertion of pursuits

Anya has labored on a scientific trial of ketamine for lowering relapse in alcohol use dysfunction and is at the moment a part of a crew learning the mechanisms of ketamine in melancholy.

This weblog incorporates components of a ‘letter to the editor’ submitted on the BMJ web site, co-written with Dr Lawrence Park, psychiatrist at NIMH.


Major paper

Abbar M, Demattei C, El-Hage W, Llorca P, Samalin L, Demaricourt P et al. Ketamine for the acute therapy of extreme suicidal ideation: double blind, randomised placebo managed trial BMJ 2022; 376 :e067194

Different references

Burke, M. J., & Blumberger, D. M. (2021). Warning at psychiatry’s psychedelic frontierNature medication27(10), 1687–1688.

Burke, M. J., Romanella, S. M., Mencarelli, L., Greben, R., Fox, M. D., Kaptchuk, T. J., Pascual-Leone, A., & Santarnecchi, E. (2022). Placebo results and neuromodulation for melancholy: a meta-analysis and analysis of shared mechanismsMolecular psychiatry27(3), 1658–1666.

Butler, M., Jelen, L., & Rucker, J. (2022). Expectancy in placebo-controlled trials of psychedelics: if that’s the case, so what?. Psychopharmacology239(10), 3047–3055.

ONS Suicides in England and Wales: 2021 registrations

Witt, Ok., Potts, J., Hubers, A., Grunebaum, M. F., Murrough, J. W., Lavatory, C., Cipriani, A., & Hawton, Ok. (2020). Ketamine for suicidal ideation in adults with psychiatric problems: A scientific assessment and meta-analysis of therapy trialsThe Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry54(1), 29–45.

World Well being Statistics. Monitoring well being for sustainable growth objectives. 2016

Yavi, M., Lee, H., Henter, I. D., Park, L. T., & Zarate, C. A., Jr (2022). Ketamine therapy for melancholy: a assessment. Uncover psychological well being2(1), 9.

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