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Does psychedelic drug use reduce risk of suicidality? Evidence from a longitudinal community-based cohort of marginalised women in a Canadian setting.

  • Author(s): Argento, Elena
  • Strathdee, Steffanie A
  • Tupper, Kenneth
  • Braschel, Melissa
  • Wood, Evan
  • Shannon, Kate
  • et al.
Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to longitudinally investigate whether ever having used a psychedelic drug can have a protective effect on incidence of suicidality among marginalised women.

Design

Longitudinal community-based cohort study.

Setting

Data were drawn from a prospective, community-based cohort of marginalised women in Metro Vancouver, Canada.

Participants

766 women completed the baseline questionnaire between January 2010 and August 2014. Participants who did not report suicidality at baseline and who completed at least one follow-up visit were included.

Main outcome measure

Extended Cox regression was used to model predictors of new suicidality (suicide ideation or attempts) over 54-month follow-up.

Results

Nearly half (46%; n=355) of participants reported prior suicidality and were thus excluded from the present analyses. Of 290 women eligible at baseline, 11% (n=31) reported recent suicidality during follow-up, with an incidence density of 4.42 per 100 person-years (95% CI 3.10 to 6.30). In multivariable analysis, reported lifetime psychedelic drug use was associated with a 60% reduced hazard for suicidality (adjusted HR (AHR) 0.40; 95% CI 0.17 to 0.94). Crystal methamphetamine use (AHR 3.25; 95% CI 1.47 to 7.21) and childhood abuse (AHR 3.54; 95% CI 1.49 to 8.40) remained independent predictors of suicidality.

Conclusion

The high rate of suicidality identified in this study is of major concern. Alongside emerging evidence on the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy to treat some mental illness and addiction issues, our findings demonstrate that naturalistic psychedelic drug use is independently associated with reduced suicidality, while other illicit drug use and childhood trauma predispose women to suicidality. While observational, this study supports calls for further investigation of the therapeutic utility of psychedelic drugs in treating poor mental health and promoting mental wellness.

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