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Suicide-Specific Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Suicidal Crisis: Clinical Effectiveness

Published on: May 28, 2018
Project Number: RC0990-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report


  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of suicide-specific psychotherapies versus psychotherapies without a suicide-specific focus for the treatment of suicidal crisis?
  2. What is the comparative clinical effectiveness of the various suicide-specific psychotherapies for the treatment of suicidal crisis?

Key Message

Three randomized controlled trials, and two reports of one non-randomized cohort study were identified describing the clinical effectiveness of suicide-specific interventions versus interventions without a suicide-specific focus for those experiencing a suicidal crisis. One of the included randomized controlled trials examined United States military personnel whereas the remaining studies examined civilian patients and individuals. The two reports of a non-randomized study described pilot results in the earlier paper and longer-term follow-up in the later paper. No eligible studies were identified describing the comparative clinical effectiveness of two or more suicide-specific interventions for suicidal crisis. Three randomized controlled trials reported improvements in suicidal ideation and behaviour after both suicide-specific and non-suicide-specific interventions; but described no consistent, statistically significant differences overall between groups of patients receiving these interventions. Two reports of a non-randomized study emphasized a statistically significant improvement in suicidal ideation and behaviour between hospital admission and discharge for inpatients receiving a suicide-specific intervention versus a non-suicide-specific intervention; however, these relative improvements were not sustained at six months of follow up. Other outcomes investigated included measures of mental health, well-being, and health care utilization. Similar to the suicide-specific outcomes, included studies generally reported improvements in mental health, well-being and health care utilization outcomes in patients receiving either suicide-specific or non-suicide-specific interventions; however, sustained differences between treatment groups were not observed. Authors of most included studies suggested that suicide-specific and non-suicide-specific interventions are effective interventions for patients experiencing suicidal crisis. However, given the lack of long-term or consistent data supporting the comparative effectiveness of suicide-specific versus non-suicide specific interventions; research from additional studies remains necessary.


suicide, psychotherapy, suicidal ideation, suicidality, Suicidal, psycho-therapy, psychotherapies, psycho-therapies, psychoanalysis, psycho-analysis, psychosocial, psycho-social, cognitive behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness