Twenty-six years of psychosocial interventions to reduce suicide risk in adolescents: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Twenty-six years of psychosocial interventions to reduce suicide risk in adolescents: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Itzhaky, L. Davaasambuu, S. Ellis, S. P. Cisneros-Trujillo, S. Hannett, K. Scolaro, K. Stanley, B. H. Mann, J. J. Wainberg, M. L. Oquendo, M. A. Sublette, M. E.
Journal of Affective Disorders
Background During adolescence, suicide risk increases; effective treatments are needed to reduce risk. Method(s) Databases were searched (1995-2020) for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) concerning psychosocial treatments for suicide prevention in adolescents (10-18 yrs). Data were extracted from the timepoint closest to 6 months. Cohen's ds were estimated for reducing suicidal ideation (SI), self-harming behaviors (SHB) excluding strictly non-suicidal self-injury, and suicide attempts (SA) and analyzed using generalized least square regression. Meta-analytic innovations included within-person correlations to reflect trait suicidality; annualization to control for exposure; estimated lifetime risk based on ages; and modeling inclusion/exclusion criteria. Alternate approaches included relative risk and comparison of intervention and control treatments to baseline. Result(s) Of 30 RCTs, 6 assessing SHB (4 measuring SA), and 7 assessing SI demonstrated treatment effectiveness. Overall, interventions decreased SI (n = 25) with low effect size (d = 0.08, p = 0.01), non-significant after controlling for publication bias (d = 0.05, p = 0.1); interventions were non-significant for SHB (n = 25, d = 0.001, p = 0.97) or SA (n = 18, d = 0.03, p = 0.52). To prevent one SHB, the number needed to treat (NNT) was 45[26,156]; for SA, NNT=42[24,149]. Non-superiority may relate to effectiveness of control treatments. Thus, experimental and control treatments also were compared to baseline: both reduced SI (p < 0.0001), and effectiveness improved for SHB (NNT=12) and SA (NNT=11). Limitation(s): Study heterogeneity and inconsistent statistical reporting limited meta-analysis. Conclusion(s) Psychosocial interventions for suicide risk in adolescents showed little effectiveness compared with control treatments; suicide outcomes improved in both groups compared to baseline. Different approaches may be needed, including precision medicine methodologies and standardized statistical reporting criteria. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V.

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Type of intervention

Treatment and Child Welfare Interventions


Mental Health Problems and Disorders

Emotional Problems



Psychological Treatments

Family Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Therapy


Psychoeducational Interventions

The organization of interventions

Group Interventions

Home-based Interventions

Network Interventions

Age group

Adolescents (13-18 years)

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