Talk therapy proven to reduce suicide risk

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Researchers at John Hopkins University, U.S have recently published their findings from an in-depth study, which shows the impact of talking therapy on more than 5,000 people who previously attempted suicide.

The findings – published in Lancet Psychiatry – reveal that following regular sessions of psychosocial counselling over a period of five years, suicides fell by 26%, compared to people who received no therapy.

The study participants – who were all based in Denmark – volunteered to undergo six to 10 sessions of therapy at local suicide prevention units.

The outcomes of their treatment was measured against 17,000 people who had attempted suicide but had not gone for counselling afterwards.

For over 20 years the participants were followed up to establish how the therapy impacted them long-term.

During the first year of therapy, it was found that 27% of participants were less likely to attempt suicide again while 38% were less likely to die of any cause.

Ten years later in a follow-up study, the positive effects of the psychosocial counselling sessions were still evident.

The aim of this therapy is to provide a safe and supportive space for people to talk about what is troubling them with a trained professional.

Annette Erlangsen, from 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.”

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Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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