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Jan 21, 2015 08:00 PM EST

LSD Could Decrease Suicidal Thinking, Attempts

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Classic psychedelics, such as LSD, mushrooms and mescaline might be protective with regard to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, according to a recent study led by University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

Previous studies suggests that psychedelics have lasting improvements in mental health. 

Approximately 30,000 lives in the United States are claimed by suicide every year, and more than 90 percent of victims have been diagnosed with mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored," Peter S. Hendricks, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from more than 190,000 respondents of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2012.

They found that those who reported ever having used a classic psychedelic drug in their lifetime had a decreased likelihood of psychological distress in the past month, and decreased suicidal thinking, planning and attempts in the past year.

"This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits)," Hendricks said.

Hendricks explained that the take-home message from this study is that classic psychedelics may hold great promise in the prevention of suicide and evaluating the therapeutic effectiveness of classic psychedelics should be a priority for future research.

The findings are detailed in the Journal of Psychopharmacology

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