Preventing suicide in children and youth

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Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Barican, J., Garland, O., Nightingale, L., & Gray-Grant,D. (2009). Preventing suicide in children and youth. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 3(4), 1–24. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people. Interventions to reduce youth suicide include both primary prevention programs as well as targeted treatments. We set out to evaluate the effectiveness of both types of interventions.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluations of interventions designed to prevent or treat suicidal thoughts or attempts among young people. Applying our inclusion criteria, we accepted four RCTs.

Results: The one primary prevention program, Signs of Suicide (SOS), resulted in significantly fewer suicide attempts among high school students. One treatment program, Multisystemic Therapy (MST), was also effective in reducing suicide attempts. 

Conclusions: There is solid evidence that suicide rates among young people can be significantly reduced with effective prevention programs like SOS. MST may be particularly effective for high-risk youth. 

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