No Psychotherapies are Effective in Preventing Teen Suicides


There are no psychosocial therapies of any kind that have a strong evidence base for reducing suicidal or self-harm tendencies in adolescents, according to a review of the scientific literature by Harvard University psychologists published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

“The purpose of this study was to review the current evidence base of psychosocial treatments for suicidal and nonsuicidal self-injurious thoughts and behaviors in youth,” wrote the researchers. They found and examined 29 relevant studies published prior to June 2013. “No interventions currently meet the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology standards for Level 1: well-established treatments,” they concluded.

They identified six types of treatment as “probably” or “possibly” efficacious, including cognitive-behavioral, family, interpersonal, and psychodynamic therapies. The evidence to support even this weak level of endorsement, however, was sparse. “(T)he probably/possibly efficacious treatments identified each have evidence from only a single randomized controlled trial.”

The researchers suggested that, “Future research should focus on replicating studies of promising treatments, identifying active treatment ingredients, examining mediators and moderators of treatment effects, and developing brief interventions for high-risk periods (e.g., following hospital discharge).”

(Abstract) Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors in Youth (Glenn, Catherine R. et al. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. Published online September 25, 2014. DOI: 10.1080/15374416.2014.945211)


  1. I notice that they don’t comment on the corollary: there are no drug treatments that are effective in reducing teen suicide, either, and there is a lot more evidence that drug treatments are more likely to INCREASE the suicide rate in teens.

    —- Steve

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  2. Additionally, this is totally to be expected since teens are ultra-sensitive to social conditions, and know that their lives are going to be ruined or thought ruined for the fact of running into the terrible misadventure that psychiatry sets before them as “hospital treatment”, that psychologists of all persuasions other than downright anti-psychiatry critical stances mindlessly and self-servingly go along with.

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      • B – Personal experience…? I didn’t see whether you meant observing or attempting, but understand along with you that these obviously will increase as tendencies because of how forced treatment and the image it creates of your incompetence looms there in the less explored corners of your neighborhood. I can’t relate to the happy hopefulness people see in the hospital who like thinking that mental illness is a good word and that this kind of thing is taken expert care of by doctors. They are unbalanced.

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