The increase in adolescent suicidal and self-harming behaviors is alarming. Those of us who work with youth are increasingly hearing about, assessing, and treating (or referring for treatment) these very high risk, potentially fatal behaviors.
Many of these young people are referred to emergency rooms and hospitals where they may or may not be supervised, may or may not receive treatment, and sadly, may still self-injure or attempt suicide. The fact is that there is no data that indicates that hospitalization reduces suicidality and the experience itself may even do more harm than good.
The gold standard treatment for these teens is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT works hard to treat at-risk youth in their community, so they learn to live in, cope with, and problem solve in the world in which they live.
A colleague and I recently wrote an article published in the Psychotherapy Networker magazine, a professional publication for therapists, about how we assess and aim to treat high risk behaviors. I want to share it with you here this month. You can read the article here.
I hope this both helps demystify how suicidal statements are handled by therapists and inspires those who are not well trained in suicide assessment to get skilled up so we can effectively respond to those who are suffering the most.