Close Contact with Young People at Risk of Suicide has no Effect
Researchers, doctors and patients tend to agree that during the high-risk period after an attempted suicide, the treatment of choice is close contact, follow-up and personal interaction in order to prevent a tragic repeat.
Now, however, new research shows that this strategy does not work. These surprising results from Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen have just been published in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers from Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen have just concluded a large study on the effect of an assertive outreach and intervention programme for young people after an attempted suicide. The surprising conclusion is that increased attention and support for the patient do not have a significant effect.
– Our results show that there is no difference between receiving standard treatment after an attempted suicide, or receiving assertive outreach intervention in addition, explains Britt Morthorst, research assistant, Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen and the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, who led the study.
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 attempt was 17% for both groups. This figure can also be found in the international literature on this topic, and describes the risk factor entailed by a prior suicide attempt.
Standard treatment just as good
Standard treatment after an attempted suicide is usually provided by the patient’s own general practitioner or a psychologist, and is 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 the study reported here, 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.