Close contact or increased attention towards a young person during the "high-risk" period after an attempted suicide does not appear to prevent a tragic repeat, according to new findings.
While researchers, doctors and patients have generally agreed that close contact and increased personal interaction during the high-risk period after a suicide attempt is an effective method of treatment, a new study found that increased attention does not influence recovery after analyzing the effects of intervention and assertive outreach programs for at risk adolescents.
Researchers from Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen conducted study at the Research Unit of Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen consisting of a total of 243 patients who had recently attempted suicide from 2007 to 2012.
Of all the participants, 120 were in the control group and 123 were in the additional intervention group.
Surprisingly, results of the study published in the British Medical Journal, showed that the rate of repeat attempts to commit suicide after treatment was 17 percent for both the control group and the experimental group.
"Our results show that there is no difference between receiving standard treatment after an attempted suicide, or receiving assertive outreach intervention in addition," lead researcher Britt Morthorst, from the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen and the Faculty of Health and Medical Services, said in a statement.
Researchers noted that the standard treatment for patients after they have attempted suicide is usually conducted by a psychologist or the patient's general practitioner, and is adapted to fit the individual's unique mental and physical health, and is up to the patients to decide if they are willing to get help or get involved with a treatment plan.
For the additional treatment plan, specially trained nurses went to the homes of patients a few days after they were released from the hospital and these nurses remained in close contact with the patients for six months following their hospital release - which included anywhere from eight to 20 outreach meetings in addition to standard treatment.
The close-contact treatment also involved nurses accompanying patients to doctors' appointments and meetings with social service as well as regularly contacting the patient via texting or phone calls.
Researchers were forced to conclude that close contact is far from the most important step in stopping repeated suicide attempts after they found that a year after treatment, the rates of reattempts of suicide were the same for the additional intervention group and the control group, who received standard treatment.
"Unfortunately, the conclusion must be that neither standard treatment nor additional assertive outreach is good enough. My suggestion is that we try to get hold of young people at risk before they attempt suicide the first time. We are looking with interest at some American Teen-Screen programmes, which look at young people's mental health generally, to see if we can identify any danger signals to which we could respond earlier," Morthorst concluded.