Suicide is identified as a leading public health issue in Australia and has a devastating effect on families and health providers. Our suicide prevention research team has completed a clinical trial investigating the efficacy of a novel drug treatment, with the participation of individuals experiencing chronic suicidality.
Low-dose ketamine has been proposed as a rapid-acting treatment option for suicidality. The majority of studies to date have used intravenous (IV) ketamine but it has limitations. Oral ketamine can be administered in a range of settings, which is important in treating suicidality, although studies as to safety and feasibility were lacking.
In this study, adults with chronic suicidal thoughts participated in the Oral Ketamine Trial on Suicidality, an open-label trial of low-dose sub-anaesthetic doses of oral ketamine over 6 weeks
Participants reported 'life changing' responses and negligible side effects.
Bellberry Limited approval: 2017-12-982. USC HREC: A181101
Low dose ketamine treatment in chronic suicidality: An open-label pilot study
This USC Thompson Institute study found that oral doses of ketamine administered in a clinical setting can provide a rapid-acting treatment for chronic suicidality. The study, published in Translational Psychiatry, showed that within the first six weeks, 69 percent of participants achieved a clinical reduction in suicide ideation.
PAPER ABSTRACT EXCERPT
The primary outcome measure of this study was the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS) and secondary measures included scales for suicidality and depressive symptoms, and measures of functioning and well-being. Mean BSS scores significantly reduced from a high level of suicidal ideation at the pre-ketamine (week 0) timepoint to below the clinical threshold at the post-ketamine (week 6) timepoint. The proportion of participants that achieved clinical improvement within the first 6 weeks was 69%, whereas 50% achieved a significant improvement by the follow-up (week 10) timepoint. Six weeks of oral ketamine treatment in participants with chronic suicidality led to significant reduction in suicidal ideation. The response observed in this study is consistent with IV ketamine trials, suggesting that oral administration is a feasible and tolerable alternative treatment for chronic suicidality.