THE SUICIDAL PROCESS
Ineke Kienhorst and Kees van Heeringen
While a vast amount of scientific literature is available concerning either suicidal behaviour or psychotherapy, far less information is available regarding the combined topic—psychotherapy and suicidal behaviour. This discrepancy is even more marked with regard to scientific information concerning the efficacy of the psychotherapeutic treatment of suicidal persons. This can be illustrated by means of a literature search (e.g. using PsycLit or Medline). A PsycLit search covering the period between 1993 and 1998 using “suicid*” and “psychotherapy” resulted in 3974 and 10 595 titles, respectively. The combination of both terms revealed only 269 titles. A search using Medline revealed a similar pattern.
In addition to the limited amount of information, the use of divergent definitions in scientific studies of the psychotherapy of suicidal persons poses substantial problems. This applies not only to what is meant by “suicidal”, but also to the word “psychotherapy”. This term is sometimes used to describe a complete therapeutic system, while in other studies the term may refer only to a particular technique. The interpretation of the results of studies in which no detailed descriptions of