Strategies to prevent death by suicide: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Br J Psychiatry. 2017 Jun;210(6):396-402. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.187799. Epub 2017 Apr 20.


BackgroundFew randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have shown decreases in suicide.AimsTo identify interventions for preventing suicide.MethodWe searched EMBASE and Medline from inception until 31 December 2015. We included RCTs comparing prevention strategies with control. We pooled odds ratios (ORs) for suicide using the Peto method.ResultsAmong 8647 citations, 72 RCTs and 6 pooled analyses met inclusion criteria. Three RCTs (n = 2028) found that the World Health Organization (WHO) brief intervention and contact (BIC) was associated with significantly lower odds of suicide (OR = 0.20, 95% CI 0.09-0.42). Six RCTs (n = 1040) of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for suicide prevention and six RCTs of lithium (n = 619) yielded non-significant findings (OR = 0.34, 95% CI 0.12-1.03 and OR = 0.23, 95% CI 0.05-1.02, respectively).ConclusionsThe WHO BIC is a promising suicide prevention strategy. No other intervention showed a statistically significant effect in reducing suicide.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires