A New Psychosocial Treatment for Suicidality

In individuals recently hospitalized for self-harm behaviors, identifying self-harm triggers and potential responses reduced suicidal threats and attempts.

Individuals hospitalized for self-harm, regardless of suicidal intent, are at high risk for future suicide attempts. Few medications have specific antisuicidal effects, but now clinicians are developing psychosocial treatments to address the multiple powerful contextual factors contributing to self-harm. “Implementation intentions” (IIs) are a set of plans that identify trigger situations and formulate plans to counter them in an “if-then” fashion. They have been used successfully to treat other problem behaviors such as overeating and alcoholism. Now, researchers have randomized 226 patients recently hospitalized for self-harm to one of three interventions: unassisted IIs (patients generate their own plans), assisted IIs (patients use “help sheets” containing possible solutions), and a control (patients think about triggers and coping without forming IIs).

At least some suicidal measures decreased in all three groups at 3 months. However, both II conditions reduced suicidal ideation, compared with the control condition, with a medium effect size. Compared with the unassisted-II condition, the assisted-II condition reduced suicidal threats (medium effect size) and actual attempts (small effect size). A measure of self-efficacy showed no change, supporting a pre-existing theory that IIs work in an automatic, nonconscious manner.


Help us make a difference by supporting our cause



  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: TEXT 741 741 or CALL 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

DISCLAIMER: The Web site located at www.adolescentselfinjuryfoundation.com (the “Site”), contains text, graphics, images, and other material (collectively “Content”), which are for informational purposes only. Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  ASIF always recommends seeking the advice of a qualified mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding adolescent self injury. Never disregard professional mental health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Site.  If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. ASIF does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.Reliance on any information provided by the Site or ASIF employees or their agents is solely at your own risk.  THE SITE AND THE CONTENT ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” BASIS WITHOUT ANY REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, OR ANY GUARANTY OR ASSURANCE THAT THE SITE WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR USE, OR THAT ALL FEATURES, FUNCTIONS OR OPERATIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE OR PERFORM AS DESCRIBED. YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE BY LAW, THE SITE, ASIF OR, ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES, OR THEIR RESPECTIVE SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS, OR ANY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, REPRESENTATIVES, OR LICENSORS SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE, OF ANY KIND, DIRECT OR INDIRECT, IN CONNECTION WITH OR ARISING FROM YOUR USE OF THE SITE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, COMPENSATORY, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, SPECIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES. The Site may contain images or descriptions that some people may find offensive.  If you find these materials offensive, we recommend that you refrain from accessing the Site.