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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Suicide Prevention

Opinion statement

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for reducing suicidal ideation and intent in acutely depressed patients with mood and psychotic disorders. Modern ECT and anesthesia techniques have made contemporary ECT much safer and better tolerated than in the past. Patients with severe depression who are suicidal should be offered ECT as a treatment option early in the course of their illness. The reluctance to prescribe ECT, a result of unfamiliarity with, and prejudice against it, is likely responsible for preventable deaths by suicide, as well as prolongation of suffering from depressive illness. Additional epidemiological studies are urgently needed to provide accurate data about the role of ECT in reducing suicide rates

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References and Recommended Reading

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Charles H. Kellner MD.

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Conflict of Interest

Charles H. Kellner reports personal fees from UpToDate, personal fees from Psychiatric Times, personal fees from Cambridge University Press, personal fees from Northshore-LIJ Health System, and grants from NIMH, outside the submitted work.

Erin H. Li reports grants from Autism Science Foundation outside the submitted work.

Kate G. Farber declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Emma T. Geduldig declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Gabriella M. Ahle declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

Informed consent and institutional review board approval was obtained for all patients who participated in the study, “Relief of expressed suicidal intent by ECT: a consortium for research in ECT study” [14].

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Kellner, C.H., Li, E.H., Farber, K.G. et al. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Suicide Prevention. Curr Treat Options Psych 3, 73–81 (2016).

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