Objective: To compare the efficacy of a skills-based treatment protocol to a supportive relationship therapy for adolescents after a suicide attempt.
Method: Thirty-nine adolescents (12-17 years old) and parents who presented to a general pediatric emergency department or inpatient unit of a child psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt were randomized to either a skills-based or a supportive relationship treatment condition. Follow-up assessments were conducted at intake and 3 and 6 months post-attempt.
Results: In contrast to the low rates of treatment received by adolescent suicide attempters in the community, approximately 60% of this sample completed the entire treatment protocol. Significant decreases in suicidal ideation and depressed mood at 3- and 6-month follow-ups were obtained, but there were no differences between treatment groups. There were six reattempts in the follow-up period.
Conclusions: When adolescents who attempt suicide are maintained in treatment, significant improvements in functioning can be realized for the majority of patients.