“Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide were roughly 25 percent lower among a group of Danish people who underwent voluntary short-term psychosocial counseling after a suicide attempt,” states a press release about a Danish study in The Lancet Psychiatry. “The findings are believed to be the first to show that talk therapy-focused suicide prevention actually works.”
The researchers studied 5678 people who, after deliberately self-harming themselves, received any form of psychosocial talk therapy intervention at various suicide prevention clinics in Denmark during 1992—2010, and compared them to 17,034 people who did not receive any psychosocial therapy intervention after deliberately self-harming.
“Although just six-to-ten talk therapy sessions were provided, researchers found long-term benefits: Five years after the counseling ended, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that received treatment as compared to a group that did not.”
The researchers stated that the therapy seemingly prevented 30 suicide deaths over the 20-year period. However, they added that there may be confounding factors. “People attending treatment at the clinics might represent a select group with respect to willingness and motivation to make a difference in their lives, leading to a self-selection bias, although the matching intended to adjust for this.”
(Abstract) (Full Text with Free Registration) Short-term and long-term effects of psychosocial therapy for people after deliberate self-harm: a register-based, nationwide multicentre study using propensity score matching (Erlangsen, Annette et al. The Lancet Psychiatry. Early Online Publication, November 24, 2014. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00083-2)
Suicide risk falls substantially after talk therapy (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Press Release on ScienceDaily, November 24, 2014)