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Suicidal Tendencies May Be Treated With Cognitive Therapy

People who had attempted to commit suicide repeatedly can now be treated effectively with cognitive //therapy programs. This procedure had been found to give better results than the other treatments used for treating people with such problems. The research findings were published in the current issue of JAMA.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia had conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine whether a brief psychosocial intervention could reduce the rate of repeat suicide attempts over an 18-month interval. The study included 120 adults who attempted suicide and were evaluated at a hospital emergency department within 48 hours of the attempt. Sixty participants were randomized to receive 10 sessions of cognitive therapy and 60 to receive enhanced usual care with tracking and referral services.

The central feature of cognitive therapy was the identification of thoughts, images, and core beliefs that were activated prior to the suicide attempt. Strategies were applied to address the identified thoughts and beliefs and participants were helped to develop adaptive ways of coping with stressors. Usual care included outpatient therapy and medication.

From baseline to the 18-month assessment, 13 participants (24.1 percent) in the cognitive therapy group and 23 participants (41.6 percent) in the usual care group made at least one subsequent suicide attempt.

Researchers said that participants in the cognitive therapy group were approximately 50 percent less likely to attempt suicide during the follow-up period than participants in the usual care group. The researchers also found that the severity of depression by one measurement was significantly lower for the cognitive therapy group than for the usual care group at the 6-month, 12-month, and 18-month assessments. The cognitive therapy group also had significantly less hopelessness than the usual care group at six months.

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