Non-invasive brain stimulation for youth with suicidal ideation


We are testing a new treatment for suicidal thoughts and behaviors in youth (18-24 years of age).

This study includes a 2-week treatment period. Participants will receive a therapy called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This is a treatment that is Health Canada approved for depression in adults, and some research has shown that it decreases suicidal thoughts. Typically, this treatment is delivered once daily for 4-6 weeks, however we will condense the treatment by delivering two treatments per day to 'accelerate' the treatment.

Here, we are trying to improve rTMS effectiveness by pairing it with a medication called cycloserine. Our research in adults suggests that this combination treatment is more effective than rTMS alone because cycloserine facilitates the brain's ability to respond to stimulation.

Participants in this study will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. 1) rTMS+cycloserine and 2) rTMS+placebo. We will assess changes in suicidal thoughts immediately after 2-weeks of treatment. We will also ask you to return to the clinic 1-month and 6-months later for a follow-up visit.


Currently recruiting participants: No

Eligible gender: Male, Female, Transgender, Other

Eligible ages: 18 to 24

Accepts healthy participants: Yes

Inclusion criteria:

1. 18-24 years of age
2. Any sex or gender
3. Can consent to treatment
4. Currently have thoughts of suicide
5. Currently have symptoms of depression
6. Can adhere to the treatment schedule
7. Are physically healthy
8. Have previously attempted suicide
9. Can safely receive rTMS

Exclusion criteria:

1. Allergic to Cycloserine
2. Current alcohol or substance misuse
3. Currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant
4. Current symptoms or history of psychosis
5. Have failed a course of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in this episode of depression
6. Received and failed to respond to transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment
7. Have a significant neurological disorder (e.g., epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, head trauma that resulted in loss of consciousness for 15 minutes or more
8. Have a major unstable medical illness (e.g., cardiac pacemaker)
9. Have an intracranial implant or any metal object in the head/mouth that cannot be safely removed
10. Take or have taken benzodiazepine medications in the past 4-weeks


Sorry, this study is not currently accepting new participants.
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Additional information

Contact information

Please contact Maya Sohn to learn more about this study.

Principal investigator:

Alexander McGirr

Clinical trial: