Ketamine for suicidality: an umbrella review

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First published: 21 April 2022

This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi: 10.1111/bcp.15360.



The urgent need for appropriate treatment for suicide, the tenth leading cause of death, has led to numerous studies. This study aims to systematically identify and appraise systematic reviews with or without meta-analyses investigating ketamine in suicidal ideation and behaviors.

The study protocol was published in PROSPERO (CRD42021285320). Scopus, ISI, Embase, PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, and two registries were searched on October 29 without any restrictions for systematic reviews investigating the efficacy of ketamine on suicidal ideation and behaviors. The primary outcome was the final inference of ketamine effectiveness. A formal narrative synthesis was conducted, and the AMSTAR-2 tool was used to evaluate the quality of the studies. No funding was received. Of 27 studies that addressed ketamine for suicidal ideation, only four reported mixed or negative results, and out of nine reviews, esketamine was significantly beneficial only in five. A transient rise in pulse rate and blood pressure, dissociation, confusion, blurred vision, nausea, and vertigo were of the most common adverse effects; however, most were mild. More than two-thirds of the included studies qualified as low or critically low quality. Preliminary evidence for the short-term efficacy of ketamine in suicidality was noted by the majority of reviews; however, long-term effects remained unknown. Due to the non-high quality of many studies and the limitations of core studies, further studies are required.