More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Therapy Can Prevent Repeat Suicide Attempts
By Jennifer Warner, WebMD

Short-Term Talk Therapy After Suicide Attempt May Save Lives

Aug. 2, 2005 -- Talking with a therapist about what triggers suicidal thoughts may prevent repeat suicide attempts in people who have previously attempted suicide.

A new study shows that a brief course of up to 10 sessions of talk therapy compared with standard treatment reduced the risk of subsequent suicide attempts by up to 50% in people treated in hospital emergency rooms for attempted suicide.

Attempted suicide is one of the strongest risk factors for repeated suicide attempts and completed suicide in adults. Previous studies have shown that adults who have attempted suicide are about 40 times more likely to commit suicide than others, and suicide was the fourth leading cause of death for adults aged 18 to 65 in 2002.

Despite the known risks, researchers say little is known about effective treatments to prevent repeat suicide attempts. They say the results suggest a brief course of talk therapy provided by community health centers may be an effective way to prevent suicide deaths, and more studies are needed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of this approach.

Talking May Prevent Repeat Suicide Attempts
In the study, which appears in the Aug. 3 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers compared the effects of talk therapy vs. the usual care in a group of 120 adults who were treated in hospital emergency rooms for attempted suicide.

Half of the participants received the usual care with limited outpatient therapy, medication, tracking, and referral to support services, and the other half received up to 10 sessions of talk therapy.

The main goal of the talk therapy was to identify the thoughts, images, and beliefs that were involved in the previous suicide attempt and addressing those issues, as well as helping the participants develop ways to adapt and cope with stressors.

During 18 months of follow up, 23 of those who received usual care made at least one repeat suicide attempt compared with 13 of those who received talk therapy.

The study also showed that the severity of depression was significantly lower for those in the talk therapy group throughout the course of the study. The talk therapy group also expressed fewer feelings of hopelessness six months after their suicide attempt.

However, there were no significant differences in the rates of suicidal ideation between the two groups at any point during the study.

Researchers say about the same number of participants in each group received medication with psychotropic drugs during the study.

SOURCE: Brown, G. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 3, 2005; vol 294: pp 563-570.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
"talk therapy" is just an archaic term for psychotherapy, originally coined to describe Freud's "new" therapy which later came to be known as psychoanalysis.

"standard treatment" would refer to medication alone, I believe, perhaps along with some minimal counseling.


My therapist always tries to "unpackage" my thoughts surrounding suicide attempts (of which I have many), but the problem is that I often remember nothing of the incident, even before taking large amounts of medicaiton which would account for memory loss. So I wake up in hospital not knowing what I've done, not knowing why I've done it, and other than the physical effects, often feeling quite alright. Often with persistent talk therapy a vague "sense" of the time before will emerge, or concrete memories without the sense of emotion attached to it. I have gleaned minimal strategy.



I know for me that I use to sort of gloss over the feelings and jump right into taking the large amounts of pills etc. and not really know why but just felt like I had to. I have been working with a psych on writing down my feelings and thoughts before I head straight to the pills and it has really helped with identifying what is going on with me. Have you tried doing this so that you can identify what is happening when you are in this sort of state. I am not saying that by writing that it is going to stop the taking of the pills etc. (as it doesn't for me but it has decreased the frequency of it) but at least it may help with identifying what is triggering for you.

Just a thought?
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