Reading First-Hand Stories May Help Reduce Suicidal Thoughts

January 20, 2023

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Psychiatric Times

Personal stories about managing suicidal thoughts may help others who are struggling, a recent study found. The study was designed to test the effectiveness of digital bibliotherapy, i.e., “a therapeutic approach in which a planned reading program facilitates the recovery of patients living with mental illness or emotional disturbance.” Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment group that read one first-person account of managing suicidal thoughts a day for 14 days, or a control group. During that period and at two-week follow-up, those in the treatment group reported a lower desire to die than those in the control group. The results were partly explained by increased feelings of shared experience and optimism among participants who read the online stories. “This study validates our belief that when people get the support and information they need, they’re better equipped to help improve health outcomes,” said Mike Porath, study coauthor and founder and CEO of The Mighty. “But it also signals where we go from here: If feelings of shared experience and optimism work for people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, then digital bibliotherapy also may work for people with chronic pain, issues particularly relevant to the LGBTQIA+ community, or any health challenge where isolation, stigma or the need for interaction are factors. This is only the beginning, and the possibilities are exciting.”

Spark Extra! Learn more about the power of lived experience in prevention efforts.