Preventing suicide has proven to be a difficult public health challenge. The suicide rate has climbed in recent years across age groups. In adolescents, suicide is the second leading cause of death. For every young person who dies by suicide, many more have suicidal thoughts, attempt suicide, or deliberately injure themselves without intending suicide.
To date, there have not been any research-validated treatments for preventing suicide among youth. And research has found that it’s hard to get adolescents with suicidal thoughts to start and stay with existing treatments.
Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and collaborators at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA are addressing the treatment void for adolescents. A recent clinical trial of a psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—which has been shown to be effective in reducing suicide-related behavior in adults—showed that DBT can also reduce suicide attempts and suicidal behavior in adolescents.