Talk Therapy Lowers Suicide Risk, Hopkins Study Shows

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In recent years, more people have died of suicide than  car accidents in the United States. But recent research from Johns Hopkins reveals that one simple treatment can lower suicide risk substantially.

That treatment? Voluntary short-term psychosocial counseling, aka talk therapy. The Hopkins researchers looked at a large cohort of people in Denmark at a high risk for suicide– that is, those who had already attempted suicide at least once. Within that group, they compared those who had sought out short-term (6-10 sessions) of counseling with those who had not. After five years, the group that received counseling had 26 percent fewer suicides.

One reason the researchers focused on Denmark is because that country has both free health care and specially designated suicide prevention clinics which provide just this kind of treatment to people who request it. (The researchers couldn’t really take people at risk for suicide and give some people treatment and deny it to others, one of the study author’s pointed out.)

While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what factor contributed to the lower suicide risk, “Our findings provide a solid basis for recommending that this type of therapy be considered for populations at risk for suicide,” study co-author and Hopkins professor of mental health Elizabeth A. Stuart told the Hopkins Hub.

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