Talk therapy is a simple but powerful way to stop people at high risk of suicide from harming themselves, according to new research. In a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, researchers who tracked tens of thousands of Danes over an 18-year period found that suicides were down 26 percent over a five-year period among people who had attempted suicide and received talking therapy sessions at a suicide prevention clinic, compared to those sent home with no treatment, the BBC reports.
In the first year, those who received talk therapy were not only 27 percent less likely to attempt suicide again, they were 38 percent less likely to die of any cause—and the positive effects could still be seen more than a decade later.
The researchers say the study is the first solid evidence "that psychosocial treatment—which provides support, not medication—is able to prevent suicide in a group at high risk of dying by suicide." A study co-author tells Bloomberg that even though previous studies showed that one in six people people who survive a suicide attempt go on to harm themselves again within a year, many suicide survivors who don't require hospitalization for a mental illness are simply sent home without being referred to a counselor.
The researchers, who say the study reinforces the fact that it's "very important to offer support for people who have attempted suicide," plan follow-up studies to determine which kinds of therapy work best.
(A World Health Organization study this year found that with a death every 40 seconds, suicide "kills more than conflicts, wars, and natural catastrophes.")
This article originally appeared on Newser: Study Finds Powerful, Simple Way to Reduce Suicide
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