The deaths of designer Kate Spade on Tuesday and TV Chef Anthony Bourdain Friday morning are bringing new attention to depression and suicide.
A new Center for Disease Control and Prevention report reveals suicide rates have risen 30 percent across much of the country since 1999.
But right here in San Diego, there is hope for a category of patients some doctors call "the untreatable."
U.S. & World
News from around the country and around the globe
This patient, we'll call Lisa, is composing a letter to the editor about her 20-year fight to stay alive.
"I know how tall the bridge is. I know how many seconds it takes to land,” Lisa said.
Lisa is an attorney with severe depression. Conventional medicines could not suppress her suicidal thoughts.
"It's awful,” she said. “The day starts with waking up thinking ‘Can I even get out of bed?’ You just fight it to exhaustion every single day.”
She was referred to Dr. David Feifel who NBC 7 first also spoke to three years ago. Patients travel from as far away as Canada to undergo his Ketamine therapy.
“Sort of a psychedelic experience. It's also been termed dissociative experience because it is sort of an out-of-body feeling,” Dr. Feifel said of his therapy.
Dr. Feifel says low doses of Ketamine have an almost immediate effect on his patients, unlike conventional anti-depressants that can take weeks to build up a therapeutic level.
While Ketamine doesn't stay in the body more than a day, its effects can last for months.
“It seems to be able to vaporize people's sense of wanting to take their life." Dr. Feifel said.
Lisa has received some 35 treatments over the last four months.
"I walk in here crappy, I'll leave happy. It is a remarkable, remarkable experience that in 20 years nothing has ever come close" Lisa said.
Her goal is to need fewer treatments and experience longer-lasting effects.
Lisa's hope for the so-called "untreatable community" of depressed people is they find help.
As a reminder, help is always available. Whether it’s for yourself or for someone you may know.
You can call the county crisis line 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (888) 724-7240. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.