Immediate and short-term efficacy of suicide-targeted interventions in suicidal individuals: A systematic review

World J Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Nov;22(9):670-685. doi: 10.1080/15622975.2021.1907712. Epub 2021 Apr 21.


Objectives: To address the extreme suicide risk period following a suicidal crisis, we aimed to assess the current evidence for specific healthcare system-based interventions on suicide-related outcomes within one-week or one-month in individuals with current suicidal ideation (SI) or a recent suicide attempt (SA).

Methods: We performed a database (Medline, Academic Search Complete, PsycARTICLES, the Cochrane library, PubMed) and manual reference search for randomised controlled trials, published between March 2000 and March 2020. Antisuicidal efficacy was defined as SI, SA, or a closely related concept. Quality was assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool for randomised trials.

Results: Out of 34 trials, five reported ketamine or esketamine superiority over placebo in reducing SI in depressed subjects within one week, while five studies had negative findings. Single trials reported positive results for one-month antisuicidal efficacy of buprenorphine, paroxetine, a crisis response plan, and assertive case management. Most trials were underpowered and had moderate-to-high risk of bias.

Conclusions: Preliminary mixed evidence suggests the possible utility of several pharmacological (ketamine, esketamine paroxetine, and buprenorphine) and non-pharmacological (a crisis response plan, and assertive case management) interventions. Only the immediate efficacy of ketamine was supported by multiple studies, and replication is needed.

Keywords: Suicide; prevention; suicidal behaviour; suicidal ideation; treatment.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted*