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The Role of Ketamine in Suicide Prevention



One of the most common presentations of clients who seek out ketamine assisted psychotherapy are those who are struggling with deep suicidal ideation. These individuals may even have previous suicide attempts. They may have a lifelong struggle with depressive thoughts that lead to suicidal tendencies and behaviors. Oftentimes, we see clients very literally at the end of their rope.


Ketamine can play a key role in helping individuals struggling with suicidal ideation. When nothing else seems to work, when all avenues seem to be exhausted, the opportunity to quiet the brain and explore oneself from a place of non-judgmental curiosity allows for a space of healing that can lead to long term benefits. Its rapid antidepressant effects can offer relief quickly where traditional antidepressants can take weeks or months to work, time that is not had when individuals are struggling with the question of whether to live or die. 


Ketamine acts on the glutamate receptors in the brian, a method of action that is different from traditional antidepressants. This promotes rapid synaptic changes that promote neuroplasticity and mood stabilization. This fact acting mechanism can act as a lifeline to the client, and can persist through the acute suicidal ideation experience, allowing for the time and resources necessary to experience sustained improvement over time. 


Through the experience of Integrated Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, clients can gain new perspectives on themselves and their lives. Mindfulness, positive intentions, and the exploration of the unconscious can free individuals from life destroying narratives that create a state of hopelessness and despair. Through our guided process, we are able to introduce visualizations that help to change perspective. As new pathways are created in the brain, old stories and narratives are challenged. Session after session, new images and understandings are strengthened, making room for a sense of renewed purpose and hope. 


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