Talk therapy lowers suicide risk





New York:  Talk therapy is gaining in importance as an alternative to medication with regard to averting repeated suicide attempts, a study shows.

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Just six-to-10 talk therapy sessions led to 26 percent fewer suicides in five years in the group that received treatment as compared to a group that did not, the researchers found.

“Now we have evidence that psycho-social treatment – which provides support, not medication – is able to prevent suicide in a group at high risk of dying by suicide,” said Annette Erlangsen, the study’s leader and adjunct associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University in the US.

The researchers say their findings suggest that it might be valuable to broadly implement therapy programmes for people who have attempted suicide in the past.

For the study, the researchers analysed health data from more than 65,000 people in Denmark who attempted suicide between Jan 1, 1992, and Dec 31, 2010.

Of that group, they looked at 5,678 people who received psycho-social therapy at one of eight suicide prevention clinics.

The researchers then compared their outcomes over time with 17,304 people who had attempted suicide and looked similar on 31 factors but had not gone for treatment afterward.

After five years, there were 26 percent fewer suicides in the group that had been treated with psycho-social therapy following their attempt.

The therapy itself varied depending on the individual needs of the patient so the researchers cannot say exactly what the “active ingredient” was that inoculated many against future suicide attempts.

A study was published online in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.