That’s the question a New York Times opinion piece asked last week.
- The suicide rate has been rising in the United States since the beginning of the century, and is now the 10th leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The trend most likely has social causes — lack of access to mental health care, economic stress, loneliness and despair, the opioid epidemic, and the unique difficulties facing small-town America.
- While long-term solutions are needed to address these serious problems, the field of psychiatry desperately needs new treatment options for patients.
- And yet no new classes of drugs have been developed to treat depression (and by extension suicidality) in about 30 years, since the advent of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac.
- These can often take weeks to work, as does talking therapy.
The good news is that scientists think that they may have found one — an old anesthetic called ketamine that, at low doses, can halt suicidal thoughts within hours (see my recent article about Dr Carlos Zarate who is pioneering Ketamine research). It works on a different bodily system to the usual SSRI’s.
The article goes on to highlight some ketamine success stories and clinical opportunities as well as some of the problematic side-effects. However, it seems to have some unique ability to reverse acute suicidal ideation and may therefore be used to save lives in these critical hours and minutes, which is cause for much thanksgiving to God. With the Lord’s blessing, perhaps this might be an opening to far more effective anti-depressants. Let’s keep praying for the Lord’s blessing and guidance on Dr Zarate and other medical researchers laboring away for the good of suffering humanity