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Talk Therapy Might Help Reduce Repeat Suicide Attempts: Study

24 November 2014, 4:26 am EST By Rhodi Lee Tech Times
Talk therapy sessions were found effective in preventing high-risk individuals from committing suicide. In the study involving Danish participants, the positive effects of psychosocial counseling are still evident 10 years later.  ( Boudewijn Berends )

Many suicidal people appear to only need someone they can talk to as talk therapy sessions have been found to make a difference between life and death among people with high risks of committing suicide.

For the new study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry on Nov. 24, researchers have found evidence that suicide survivors who underwent psychosocial counseling after attempting to end their life were less likely to commit another suicide attempt compared with those who did not receive counseling.

The findings highlight the effectiveness of a treatment option that focuses on providing support and not medication in preventing suicide among high risk individuals.

For the study, Annette Erlangsen, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Mental Health, and colleagues looked at the health data of over 65,000 individuals in Denmark who attempted to commit suicide between January 1992 and December 2010. Of these individuals, 5,678 received voluntary short-term psychosocial therapy from a suicide prevention clinic.

By comparing the outcomes of these individuals with 17,304 suicide survivors who did not receive counseling, the researchers found that during the first year, those who received therapy had 27 percent reduced risks of committing suicide again and 38 percent had reduced odds of dying from any cause.

After five years, the group that underwent treatment had 26 percent less suicide attempts. The positive outcome is likewise still evident 10 years later with individuals who had therapy having significantly lower suicide rates compared with those in the untreated group, indicating of talk therapy's long term positive outcome.

"Our findings show a lower risk of repeated deliberate self-harm and general mortality in recipients of psychosocial therapy after short-term and long-term follow-up, and a protective effect for suicide after long-term follow-up, which favor the use of psychosocial therapy interventions after deliberate self-harm," the researchers wrote in their study.

Erlangsen and colleagues said that what exactly helped the high-risk individuals in their study was not clear as the therapy provided varied according to the needs of the patients. It was, however, possible that providing these people with a safe and confidential place to talk has effectively helped. The researchers said that they intend to gather more data in order to determine which particular types of therapy could work best.

"It's very important to offer support for people who have attempted suicide," Erlangsen said. "We know that they are at risk for repeating and dying from suicide. In just one year we would prevent one suicide attempt for every 44 people seen."

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