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J Psychiatr Res. 2016 Aug;79:8-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.04.003. Epub 2016 Apr 16.

Is psychotherapy effective for reducing suicide attempt and non-suicidal self-injury rates? Meta-analysis and meta-regression of literature data.

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INSERM U1061, University of Montpellier UM1, Montpellier, France; FondaMental Foundation, France. Electronic address:
INSERM U1061, University of Montpellier UM1, Montpellier, France; FondaMental Foundation, France; Department of Emergency Psychiatry & Acute Care, Lapeyronie Hospital, CHU Montpellier, Montpellier, France.



To determine the efficacy of psychotherapy interventions for reducing suicidal attempts (SA) and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI).


Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing psychotherapy interventions and treatment as usual (TAU; including also enhanced usual care, psychotropic treatment alone, cognitive remediation, short-term problem-oriented approach, supportive relationship treatment, community treatment by non-behavioral psychotherapy experts, emergency care enhanced by provider education, no treatment) for SA/NSSI. RCTs were extracted from MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Cochrane Library and analyzed using the Cochrane Collaboration Review Manager Software and Comprehensive Meta-analysis.


In the 32 included RCTs, 4114 patients were randomly assigned to receive psychotherapy (n = 2106) or TAU (n = 2008). Patients who received psychotherapy were less likely to attempt suicide during the follow-up. The pooled risk difference for SA was -0.08 (95% confidence intervals = -0.04 to -0.11). The absolute risk reduction was 6.59% (psychotherapy: 9.12%; TAU: 15.71%), yielding an estimated number needed to treat of 15. Sensitivity analyses showed that psychotherapy was effective for SA mainly in adults, outpatients, patients with borderline personality disorder, previously and non-previously suicidal patients (heterogeneous variable that included past history of SA, NSSI, deliberate self-harm, imminent suicidal risk or suicidal ideation), long- and short-term therapies, TAU only as a control condition, and mentalization-based treatment (MBT). No evidence of efficacy was found for NSSI, with the exception of MBT. Between-study heterogeneity and publication bias were detected. In the presence of publication bias, the Duval and Tweedie's "trim and fill" method was applied.


Psychotherapy seems to be effective for SA treatment. However, trials with lower risk of bias, more homogeneous outcome measures and longer follow-up are needed.


Personality disorder; Psychotherapy; Suicide attempt

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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