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The Role of ECT in Suicide Prevention

Fink, Max MD*; Kellner, Charles H. MD; McCall, W. Vaughn MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3182a6ad0d

Suicide is a leading cause of death among psychiatric patients, and a leading cause of death from all causes in people younger than 30 years. The rapid relief of severe depression, mania, and psychosis by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is accompanied by the rapid reduction in suicide drive. Electroconvulsive therapy use is, however, inhibited by fear of electricity, unreasoned prejudice, legislative restrictions, and the limited availability of trained professionals and adequate facilities. This review assesses the experience with ECT in persons with suicide risk and recommends the consideration of ECT in treatment algorithms to reduce suicide rates.

From the *Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Stony Brook University, Long Island; †Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY; and ‡Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA.

Received for publication January 10, 2013; accepted July 24, 2013.

Reprints: Max Fink, MD, PO Box 457, St James, NY 11780 (e-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins