The acute effects of accelerated repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on suicide risk in unipolar depression: preliminary results


Desmyter S, Duprat R, Baeken C, Bijttebier S, van Heeringen K

Background: Suicide is a major health concern. Effective acute interventions are lacking. Recent studies have suggested an

acute decrease of suicidal ideations following repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). However, placebo effects could

not be excluded. We aimed to evaluate the acute effect of accelerated intermittent theta burst stimulation (TBS) on suicide risk in


Subjects and methods: In 12 suicidal therapy-resistant depressed patients accelerated intermittent TBS was delivered on the left

dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in a randomized, sham-controlled cross-over fashion. Patients received 20 sessions spread over 4

days. The change in severity of suicidal ideation was measured by the Beck Scale of Suicidal Ideation (SSI) before and after


Results: We found a significant decrease of SSI score over time; unrelated to active or sham stimulation. Furthermore, the

attenuation of suicidal thinking was not merely related to depression severity changes caused by TBS.

Conclusions: Accelerated TBS treatment in depressed suicidal patients was found to be safe and well tolerated and may have the

potential to acutely decrease suicidal ideations. However, the efficacy compared to sham has not yet been proven and further shamcontrolled

research including longer follow-up is needed to substantiate these preliminary findings.