Teen Suicide Risk May Be Lower With Intense Team-Based Therapy

August 03, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


An intensive therapy may effectively reduce teen suicide risk, a new study suggests. Adolescents with a history of self-harm, suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts were randomly assigned to receive six months of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or less intensive supportive therapy. Consisting of both individual and family treatment, DBT included psychotherapy and skills training for teens and their parents. After six months, the participants who received DBT were 70 percent less likely to attempt suicide and 67 percent less likely to self-harm than those who received supportive therapy. The authors noted that the majority of their study participants were female, so future research should investigate whether the results apply to males. “This is the second (and largest) randomized controlled trial that has shown DBT to be better than treatment as usual for adolescents with repeated self-harm,” said Paul Wilkinson, a psychiatry researcher at the University of Cambridge. “I think DBT worked because it was a more complex in-depth therapy that was better at teaching adolescents and families strategies to reduce self-harm, and the feelings that lead to self-harm.”

Spark Extra! Read the study abstract.