Background: The development of individual coping strategies for suicidal crises is essential for suicide prevention. However, the influence of a brief intervention and the effect on coping strategies is largely unknown. This study aimed to investigate the influence of the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program on the development of coping strategies, in comparison to a control group.
Method: In this secondary analysis of a 24-month follow-up randomised controlled study, 120 patients (55% female; mean age of 36) with a history of suicide attempts were randomly allocated to either the ASSIP group or to a control group, in addition to treatment as usual.
Results: The present study identified 11% less dysfunctional coping in the ASSIP group and 6% more problem-focussed coping compared to the control group after 24-months. The analysis of broader strategies showed a statistically significant group difference regarding self-distraction (after 12-months) and self-blame (after 24-months). In regard to the long-term association between coping strategies and suicidal ideation, active coping and substance use were negatively associated with suicidal ideation in the ASSIP group. Whereas, in the control group, behavioural disengagement and positive reframing were positively and self-distraction was negatively related to suicidal ideation.
Limitation: The receipt of a clinical interview and suicide risk assessment in the control group could have potentially had an effect on participants’ coping mechanisms.
Conclusion: These results indicate that ASSIP may have an impact on the development of problem-focussed coping strategies. Although a reduction in dysfunctional coping seems to be essential in overcoming suicidal crises.