Emerging research suggests commonly used strategies to prevent individuals from repeated suicide attempts are inffective.
Currently the treatment of choice for an individual who has attempted suicide but failed, is to have close contact, follow-up and personal interaction.
But In the new study, researchers from Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen discovered that increased attention and support for a high risk individual failed to prevent additional suicide attempts.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers discovered there was no difference between receiving standard treatment after an attempted suicide, or receiving additional assertive outreach intervention.
The study was conducted at the Research Unit of Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen from 2007 to 2010. A total of 243 patients who had recently attempted suicide participated in the study; 123 in the additional intervention group and 120 in the control group.
In the study, the frequency of repeated suicide attempts was 17 percent for both groups. Experts say this value is consistent with prior findings and describes the risk factor entailed by a prior suicide attempt.
For this research study, standard treatment after an attempted suicide was defined as care provided by the patient’s own general practitioner or a psychologist — as adapted to the patient’s physical and mental health.
Generally it is up to the patient to seek help and initiate a course of treatment. In this study, standard treatment was supplemented by treatment at the Competence Centre for Suicide Prevention under the auspices of Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark.
Under the additional intervention program, specially trained nurses visited patients a few days after their discharge from hospital and maintained especially close contact with them for up to six months, with between eight and 20 outreach consultations in addition to standard treatment.
Contact covered meetings with patients in the patient’s home, and also included accompanying patients to doctors’ appointments and meetings with social services. The option of telephone and texting contact was also part of the package.
Researchers were surprised that the close contact did not alter the frequency of repeated suicide attempts. According to the investigators, close contact does not appear to stop the negative spiral involved in repeated suicide attempts.
This finding means that intervention before the first suicide attempt is essential. As such, research should focus on programs that proactively screen teens to assess their mental health.
Source: University of Copenhagen