Jul 23, 2019 | Updated: 09:13 AM EDT

Suicide Attempts Decreased In People Who Went Through Talk Therapy

Nov 26, 2014 06:28 PM EST

Suicide is the tenth cause of death in the U.S in 2010
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Sometimes, just a bit of quality counselling and empathic talk can convince suicidal people to go on with their lives. Psychotherapy has long been cherished as an effective means of helping people whose feelings of emptiness have, at some point in their lives, led them to contemplate committing suicide.

In fact, a new study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that short-term psychotherapy could have long-term benefits for people at higher risk of suicide. The study published in the Lancet Psychiatry revealed that likelihood of committing suicide lessened by more than 25 per cent for people who have undergone six to 10 sessions of psychotherapy.

Considering that people who have attempted suicide once have higher chances of attempting it again in the future, talk therapy may be beneficial for those in the most extreme form of mental pain. 

The team studied data of more than 65,000 Danish people who had attempted suicide between 1992 and 2010. Of the study sample, over 5,600 people received six to 10 sessions of talk therapy directly after the suicide attempt. The researchers compared these individuals to 17,000 participants who did not receive therapy after their suicide attempts.

The researchers saw the trend that participants who'd taken part in talk therapy were 27 per cent less likely to commit suicide again in the first year than people who didn't have therapy. They were also 38 per cent less likely to die of any cause. The difference was still the same after five years of follow-up, and even remained after 10.

In the past 20 years, Denmark has opened suicide prevention centers across the country, while it offers universal healthcare to its citizens.

Annette Erlangsen, study author and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "We know that people who have attempted suicide are a high-risk population and that we need to help them.... However, we did not know what would be effective in terms of treatment. Now we have evidence that psychosocial treatment - which provides support, not medication - is able to prevent suicide in a group at high risk of dying by suicide."

Though the study had a long follow-up period and population size, it was not a randomized controlled trial, but such an intervention would be ethically impossible, the researchers said. "These findings might be the best evidence available and provide a sound basis for policy makers who wish to limit suicidal behavior and fatal events in an accessible high-risk group, which, in many countries, receives little support."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S in 2010 for all ages, with around 38,364 suicides in 2010  or an average of 105 each day.

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