This course will introduce an integrative model for suicide prevention, one in which the concept of suicidality as the result of underlying biochemical, nutritional, genetic, and environmental factors is explored. Research illustrating the benefits of nutritional supplementation to mitigate risk factors will be presented; evidence-based interventions will be described; and a treatment approach centered upon objective biologic measurement and a concept of biochemical individuality will be presented.
Presenter: James M. Greenblatt, MD
Module 1 – Understanding Suicide Prevention from an Orthomolecular Perspective
This module begins with an exploration of the suicide crisis: its scope and escalation, factors contributing to the global increase in incidence, and current prevention initiatives. Treatment approaches constituent of reining therapeutic paradigms will be reviewed, with a special focus on pharmaceutical medications. Empirical evidence highlighting the risks and side-effects of antidepressant and antipsychotic medication will be presented, alongside data that challenge the notion that symptomatic suppression through reactive polypharmacy is an adequate stratagem. Finally, the role of trauma and genetics in the etiology of suicidal behaviors will be reviewed within a functional medicine context, and a new, biologic model of suicide prevention will be introduced.
Module 2 – Risk Factors and the Role of Inflammation in Suicidality
This module is an in-depth exploration of a phenomenon that research has associated with a variety of psychiatric disorders and suicidality: inflammation. Intrinsic and biochemical factors that contribute to localized and systemic inflammatory response will be discussed, along with mechanisms whereby inflammation may progress from acute to chronic and thus confer elevated depression and suicide risk. Next, the role of fats and lipids in the maintenance of mental health will be elucidated, with an emphasis on essential fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and cholesterol. Scientific evidence linking cholesterol and suicide will be reviewed, as well as the biologic mechanisms by which low cholesterol may precipitate alterations in brain function. This module will invite a new perspective as to the roles that nutrition and biochemistry play in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders, and the ways in which underlying biochemical abnormalities can increase suicide risk.
Module 3 – Nutritional Interventions for Suicide Prevention
In this module, the exploration of biochemical factors that underlie psychiatric illness and suicidality will be continued, with analyses as to the significance and ramifications of sleep deprivation and hypovitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency). Factors contributing to these phenomena will be examined, and scientific evidence will be presented that places disordered sleep and hypovitaminosis D firmly in the list of factors to be considered as part of an integrative approach to suicide prevention. The module will then turn to an exploration of the history, biologic actions, and therapeutic potential of one of Nature’s ‘miracle minerals’: lithium. Research demonstrating the efficacy of nutritional lithium as part of an integrative protocol will be reviewed, with an emphasis on the biologic mechanisms postulated to underlie lithium’s documented neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Finally, a roadmap to suicide prevention will be presented, inviting participants to rethink current treatment approaches in light of evidence that suicidal behavior arises from underlying biologic abnormalities that, if rectified, can offer patients true hope for recovery.