Suicide Prevention Better Than Treatment

Suicide treatment plans that include constant contact may not help

(RxWiki News) Prevention is best when it comes to suicide attempts, but what treatment is best afterwards? Extra contact on top of regular treatment may not be the answer.

A recent study tested regular post-suicide attempt treatment to a constant contact treatment plan.

Results found no difference between the two treatment groups.

"Talk to a therapist - it will help."

Britt Morthorst, research assistant, Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen and the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences in Denmark, led this study into the outcomes of contact with adolescents at risk for repeat suicide attempts.

For the study, 243 patients over the age of 12 who had attempted suicide in the last 14 days were recruited from 2007-2010.

The patients were split into two groups: the additional intervention group with 123 patients and the regular intervention group with 120 patients.

The additional intervention approach added more assertive outreach, crisis management, motivational support and actively prompt patients to schedule treatment appointments in addition to standard treatments.

Nurses trained for the additional intervention program maintained close contact with the patients in the group for the six months after their attempts.

The nurses visited the patients in their homes, phone calls, text messages and going with the patients to their mental health appointments.

Researchers followed patients for 12 months after they entered the study.

Results found that the additional interventions did not lower the risk for a second suicide attempt.

A total of 16 percent of the patients in the additional intervention group made another suicide attempt within a year of their initial attempt compared to 11 percent of the regular intervention group.

Researchers went back and reformulated the final results with self-reported data from the patients.

Secondary results showed that 12 percent of the additional intervention group made another suicide attempt, compared to 19 percent of the regular intervention group.

These mixed results led the authors to conclude that the additional intervention group and the regular intervention group showed no real difference in their outcomes.

Morthorst said, “Our results show that there is no difference between receiving standard treatment after an attempted suicide, or receiving assertive outreach intervention in addition.”

“Unfortunately, the conclusion must be that neither standard treatment nor additional assertive outreach is good enough. My suggestion is that we try to get hold of young people at risk before they attempt suicide the first time.”

Morthorst went on to suggest that screening programs that assess early warning signs for potential suicide risk in teens could be the best way to prevent suicide altogether.

This study was published in August in the British Journal of Medicine. Funding for this study came from the Ministry of Health and Internal Affairs, Denmark, the National Board of Social Services, TrygFonden and Aase og Ejnar Danielsens Foundation, no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 27, 2012