Mapping the evidence of prevention and intervention studies for suicidal and self-harming behaviors in young people
De Silva, S., Parker, A., Purcell, R., Callahan, P., Liu, P., & Hetrick, S.
Background: Suicide and self-harm (SSH) in young people is a major cause of disability-adjusted life years. Effective interventions are of critical importance to reducing the mortality and morbidity associated with SSH. Aims: To investigate the extent and nature of research on interventions to prevent and treat SSH in young people using evidence mapping. Method: A systematic search for SSH intervention studies was conducted (participant mean age between 6-25 years). The studies were restricted to high-quality evidence in the form of systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and controlled trials. Results: Thirty-eight controlled studies and six systematic reviews met the study inclusion criteria. The majority (n = 32) involved psychological interventions. Few studies (n = 9) involved treating young people with recognized mental disorders or substance abuse (n = 1) which also addressed SSH. Conclusion: The map was restricted to RCTs, CCTs, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses, and thus might have neglected important information from other study designs. The effectiveness of interventions within the trials was not evaluated. The evidence base for SSH interventions in young people is not well established, which hampers best-practice efforts in this area. Promising interventions that need further research include school-based prevention programs with a skills training component, individual CBT interventions, interpersonal psychotherapy, and attachment-based family therapy. Gaps in the research exist in evaluations of interventions for SSH in young people with identifiable psychopathology, particularly substance use disorder, and research that classifies participants on the basis of their suicidal intent.