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Talk-therapy could help reduce the risk of suicide by a quarter in those considered a high-risk, a new study has suggested.
Researchers from John Hopkins University tracked more than 5,000 Danish people who had attempted suicide and later received psychosocial counselling. They found suicides went down by 26% after five years, compared to people who had no therapy sessions.
According to the research team – led by Annette Erlangsen of the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins – individuals who have already attempted suicide are at very high risk of a repeat attempt.
“We know that people who have attempted suicide are a high-risk population and that we need to help them,” says Erlangsen to Medical News Today. “However, we did not know what would be effective in terms of treatment.”
The majority of people who attempt suicide have some form of mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia. These individuals may receive medication dependent on the type of disorder they have, which may help reduce their risk of suicide.
But in this study – published in
The Lancet Psychiatry – Erlangsen and her team wanted to assess the effects of psychosocial counselling among individuals who have previously attempted suicide.
The researchers analysed Danish health data on more than 65,000 people who attempted suicide between January 1 1992 and December 31 2010.
Of that group, 5,678 individuals received psychosocial therapy at one of eight suicide prevention clinics in Denmark.
Their outcomes were compared with those of 17,304 people who had attempted suicide but not received therapy.
Dr Elizabeth Stuart, study co-author and associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of mental health, said the long-term follow-up was ideal for gathering information on which suicide prevention treatments worked.
“Our findings provide a solid basis for recommending that this type of therapy be considered for populations at risk for suicide,” she said.
They said it was likely that providing a safe, confidential place to talk was the key to the success of the therapy sessions.
But the researchers say they plan to gather more data on which specific types of therapy work best.
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