Effects of Therapy on Suicide Attempts

March 18, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

Research described as “the largest follow-up study of psychosocial therapy interventions offered after deliberate self-harm” revealed significantly reduced rates of suicide attempts (which the authors refer to as “deliberate self-harm”) as well as “death by any cause” during the year following the intervention. These results were sustained over the long-term (i.e. 10-20 year follow-up). The suicide rate among people who had received psychosocial therapy was also reduced in the long-term.

A reduction in the suicide rate also occurred at the one-year follow-up, but it was not statistically significant. The intervention reduced repeat suicide attempts among women but not men. People 10-24 years of age benefited more than adults. People who were treated after their first suicide attempt seemed to benefit more than people who had prior episodes of self-harm. However, both groups of patients were less at risk of dying by suicide than people who did not receive psychosocial intervention after a suicide attempt.

The data analyzed was from Denmark (1992-2010). The psychosocial therapy interventions all focused on preventing suicide, but differed depending on which clinic treated the patient and which therapies clinicians thought would be effective with individual patients.

This research summary is based on: Erlangsen, A., Lind, D. B., Stuart, E. A., Qin, P., Stenager, E., Larsen, K. J., …Wang, A. G. (2015). Short-term and long-term effects of psychosocial therapy for people after deliberate self-harm: a register-based, nationwide multicentre study using propensity score matching. Lancet Psychiatry, 2(1), 49-58.