Suicide Attempts: Prevention of Repetition

Daigle, Marc S.; Pouliot, Louise; Chagnon, François; Greenfield, Brian; Mishara, Brian
October 2011
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry;Oct2011, Vol. 56 Issue 10, p621
Academic Journal
Objective: To present an overview of promising strategies to prevent repetition of suicidal behaviours. Method: This literature review on tertiary preventive interventions of suicide attempts was produced using the computerized databases PubMed and PsycINFO from January 1966 to September 2010, using French- and English-language limits and the key words: suicid* or deliberate self-harm and treatment* or therapy or intervention* or management. Results: Thirteen of the 35 included studies showed statistically significant effects of fewer repeated attempts or suicides in the experimental condition. Overall, 22 studies focused on more traditional approaches, that is, pharmacological or psychological approaches. Only 2 of the 6 pharmacological treatments proved significantly superior to a placebo- a study of lithium with depression and flupenthixol with personality disorders. Eight out of 16 psychological treatments proved superior to treatment as usual or another approach: cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) (n = 4), (including dialectical behaviour therapy [n = 2]); psychodynamic therapy (n = 2); mixed (CBT plus psychodynamic therapy [n = 1]); and motivational approach and change in therapist (n = 1). Among the 8 studies using visit, postal, or telephone contact or green-token emergency card provision, 2 were significant: one involving telephone follow-up and the other telephone follow-up or visits. Hospitalization was not related to fewer attempts, and 1 of the 4 outreach approaches had significant results: a program involving individualized biweekly treatment. The rationale behind these single or multiple approaches still needs to be clarified. There were methodological flaws in many studies and some had very specific limited samples. Conclusions: There is a need for more research addressing the problem in definitions of outcomes and measurement of the dependent variables, gender-specific effects, and inclusion of high-risk groups. There is a need for the development and evaluation of new approaches that support collaboration with community resources and more careful assessment and comparisons of existing treatments with different populations.


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