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Suicide and Counseling

Suicide is one of the 10 leading causes of death in the US, and it’s estimated that more than 1 million Americans try to kill themselves every year.  According to the research team, led by Annette Erlangsen of the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins, people who have already tried to kill themselves are at a high risk of a repeat attempt.  The majority of people who have attempted suicide tend to have some form of mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia.  These people could receive medication dependent on the type of disorder that they have, which in turn could help reduce their risk of suicide.  For her study, Erlangsen wanted to assess the effects of psychological counseling among people who have attempted suicide.

For their study, the team analyzed the health data of more than 65,000 people in Denmark who have attempted suicide between 1992 and 2010.  Over a 20-year follow-up period, the team monitored the Matthew Ludwick counselingoutcomes of 5,678 people who had undergone such counseling at one of eight clinics and compared them with the outcomes of people who hadn’t yet received this counseling.  Those people who have received the counseling attended 6-10 sessions.  The team discovered that in the first year after counseling ended, those who underwent therapy were 27% less likely to repeat suicide attempts, and were at 38% lower risk of death from all causes than those who didn’t receive any therapy.

After 5 years, repeat suicide attempts were 26% lower among the therapy group.  After 10 years, the suicide rate was 229 per 100,000 for the therapy group and 314 per 100,000 for those who didn’t receive therapy.  Since the counseling sessions were tailored to each individual’s circumstances, the researchers weren’t able to say why the therapy was so effective for preventing suicide.  However, they say that this is something they intend to investigate with future research.  Back in September, the site Medical News Today revealed that World Health Organization (WHO) have called for global action to reduce the number of suicide deaths, and that one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.

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