Talk Therapy Helps Reduce Suicide Risk

Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide dropped by 25 percent in a study of Danish people who had six to ten psychosocial counseling sessions after a suicide attempt.

“We know that people who have attempted suicide are a high-risk population and that we need to help them. However, we did not know what would be effective in terms of treatment,” says lead author Annette Erlangsen, an adjunct associate professor at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Now we have evidence that psychosocial treatment – which provides support, not medication – is able to prevent suicide in a group at high risk of dying by suicide.”

The researchers looked at health data from more than 65,000 people in Denmark who attempted suicide between 1992 and 2010. The researchers found that during the first year, those who received therapy were 27 percent less likely to attempt suicide again and 38 percent less likely to die of any cause. After five years, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that had been treated following their attempt. After 10 years, the suicide rate for those who had therapy was 229 per 100,000 compared to 314 per 100,000 in the group that did not get the counseling.

The study was published in Lancet Psychiatry.

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