How Cognitive Behavior Therapy May Help Suicidal People

From the New York Times.
By Judith S. Beck

In C.B.T., clear steps are intended to help build hope, solve problems and make a plan to avoid relapses.

After a week of devastating news about suicide, there has been much discussion of the need for people who may be thinking of ending their lives to reach out for help. But some people who are suffering may be skeptical that therapy could make a difference.

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy, or C.B.T., in treating suicidal individuals and decreasing subsequent attempts. A 2016 review of 15 randomized controlled trialsfound that C.B.T. “is a useful strategy in the prevention of suicidal cognitions and suicidal behaviors.”

Throughout my career I have used this method to treat patients with many different types of problems and diagnoses, including suicidal behavior — which may occur along with problems like depression, addictions, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Medications can be very effective in treating certain diagnoses, but those medications may take some time to take effect. Therefore the suicidality must be addressed before the medications will be helpful. Sometimes individuals will need to be hospitalized in order to keep them safe until C.B.T. or medications can help. But inpatient treatment is not necessary for everyone who has suicidal thoughts.

Read more here.

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