Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for 10–34 year-olds. Moreover, up to 20% of adolescents report engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) at some point in their lifetime. Despite the urgent need, the literature on effective treatment options for children and adolescents struggling with suicide, NSSI, and other self-injurious behaviors (SIBs) is relatively limited. This article reviews the efficacy of current treatments for youth suicidality and SIBs.
Most of the existing literature on treatment for suicidality and NSSI in children and adolescents is focused on psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychoeducation, family therapy, and school-based interventions. In contrast, psychopharmacology studies have focused on addressing disorders related to suicidality and NSSI such as major depressive disorder, rather than on the behaviors themselves.
Currently, there is no single treatment that is considered the gold standard for child and adolescents struggling with suicidality and NSSI. While individual psychotherapies, including CBT and DBT, and psychopharmacological agents, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), show promise in addressing suicide and related psychopathology, there is considerable need for novel approaches to address the underlying mechanisms leading to youth suicidality and NSSI.
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Gilbert, A.C., DeYoung, L.L., Barthelemy, C.M. et al. The Treatment of Suicide and Self-Injurious Behaviors in Children and Adolescents. Curr Treat Options Psych 7, 39–52 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40501-020-00201-3