Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Latest Suicide Prevention Research Cites Roles for Clinicians

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Latest Suicide Prevention Research Cites Roles for Clinicians

Article excerpt


Adolescent suicides can be prevented, and clinicians have a key role to play, Joan Asarnow, PhD, said in a webinar presented on World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10, 2019, to raise awareness of the latest research in suicide prevention and risk factors.

Primary care can be the first-line screening to identify risk factors for suicide, and a close link with primary care "can make a very big difference in helping kids get through tough times," Dr. Asarnow said during a question-and-answer session. Some studies have shown that when doctors and nurses are able to recognize suicidality and link to behavioral health when needed, suicide attempts and ideation are reduced. Strategies including dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy have proven successful in reducing self-harm, she noted.

Schools also have a role in suicide prevention, said Dr. Asarnow of the University of California, Los Angeles, and editor of a special issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry on suicide and self-harm.

She cited data from the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe (SEYLE) study, a longitudinal study of school-based suicide prevention interventions, in which suicide attempts were significantly lower among teens who were exposed to a school-based program (Youth Aware of Mental Health) than they were among controls.

Additional findings from the SEYLE study recently were published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2019. doi: 10.1111 /jcpp. 13119).

The authors investigated the interaction of three interventions with a certain model of suicide risk. The three interventions were Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM); Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR); and ProfScreen. The latter two are established interventions for use by teachers. In the study, 11,110 high school students from 10 countries in the European Union completed questionnaires to assess baseline feelings of being a burden to others and feelings of loneliness and isolation from family and peers. The questionnaires also assessed health risk behaviors, self-injury, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts (SA), which were factors in the model being investigated. The participants were randomized to one of the interventions or to a control group that received educational posters with information about mental health resources.

In a reassessment of 8,972 adolescents 12 months later, the interventions all significantly reduced the association between repeated suicide attempts and the baseline interaction of self-injury and suicide ideation, compared with the control group.

"Among each of the three intervention groups, [suicide ideation] at baseline did not increase the risk of self-injury to be associated with repeated [suicide attempt]" at follow-up, Shira Barzilay, PhD, of Tel Aviv University, and coauthors said. …

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