Cognitive behavioral therapy for suicidal behaviors: improving patient outcomes

Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2016 Mar 3;9:21-9. doi: 10.2147/PRBM.S84589. eCollection 2016.


This systematic review provides an overview of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing suicidal cognitions and behavior in the adult population. We identified 15 randomized controlled trials of CBT for adults (aged 18 years and older) that included suicide-related cognitions or behaviors as an outcome measure. The studies were identified from PsycINFO searches, reference lists, and a publicly available database of psychosocial interventions for suicidal behaviors. This review identified some evidence of the use of CBT in the reduction of both suicidal cognitions and behaviors. There was not enough evidence from clinical trials to suggest that CBT focusing on mental illness reduces suicidal cognitions and behaviors. On the other hand, CBT focusing on suicidal cognitions and behaviors was found to be effective. Given the current evidence, clinicians should be trained in CBT techniques focusing on suicidal cognitions and behaviors that are independent of the treatment of mental illness.

Keywords: CBT; suicidal behaviors; suicidal cognitions.

Publication types

  • Review