Year: 2023 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2022). 1-16. DOI: SIEC No: 20231725

Objective: Knowledge of the effectiveness and limits of the suitability of brief interventions in suicide prevention is greatly needed. We investigated subgroup differences and predictors for suicide re-attempts within a clinical trial population recruited for a brief intervention to prevent re-attempts.

Methods: Consenting adult patients receiving treatment for a suicide attempt in Helsinki City general hospital emergency rooms in 2016-2017 (n = 239) were randomly allocated to (a) the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) or (b) Crisis Counseling (CC). Participants also received their usual treatment. Information on primary outcome repeat attempts and secondary outcomes was collected via telephone and from medical and psychiatric records for 2 years. As proportions of re-attempts did not differ significantly between ASSIP and CC (29.2 vs. 35.2%), patients were pooled and predictors for suicide re-attempts were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier and logistic regression analyses.

Results: Re-attempts were predicted by participants’ younger age (OR 0.965 [0.933-0.998]), previous suicide attempts (OR 2.437 [1.106-5.370]), psychiatric hospitalization in the year preceding baseline (OR 3.256 [1.422-7.458]), and clinical diagnosis of a personality disorder (OR 4.244 [1.923-9.370]), especially borderline personality disorder (OR 5.922 [2.558-13.709]).

Conclusions: Within a population of suicide attempters consenting to a brief intervention trial, the risk of re-attempt was strongly predicted by subjects’ young age, history of previous attempts, psychiatric hospitalizations, and personality disorder, particularly borderline personality disorder. The composition of treated populations with regard to these characteristics may strongly influence the observed success of brief interventions. Their potential as moderators of treatment effectiveness and as indicators of the utility of brief interventions warrants further investigation.

HIGHLIGHTS: During the 2-year follow-up, 32% of trial participants reattempted suicide. Rates of reattempts varied and were strongly predicted by clinical subgroup. Subgroup composition may strongly influence brief interventions’ observed outcome.