People who are at elevated risk of suicide can participate in research without increasing their suicide risk, according to the authors of a recent study. However, the authors caution that research involving suicidal individuals should be designed and carried out by “trained assessors and clinicians who are able to identify participants at risk and provide intervention if necessary” since some participants may require preventive services.
The authors write that “the vast majority of suicidal participants reported no changes in self-harm or suicide urges following assessment interviews and in some cases even reported a decrease in postassessment suicide risk. Only a small proportion of study participants reported an increase in their self-harm or suicide urges following their assessment interview.” The authors suggest that the “therapeutic and cathartic effect of the assessment interviews” may have contributed to a decline in suicidality among patients during the study.
The sample used in this research was drawn from patients who had been discharged from an inpatient psychiatric service after a suicide attempt or serious suicidal ideation and who were participating in a study of post-discharge suicidal behavior. Most had been diagnosed with a major depressive or bipolar disorder. Participants were assessed for suicide risk while hospitalized as well as one, three, and six months after being discharged.
This summary based on: Eynan, R., Bergmans, Y., Antony, J., Cutliffe, J.R., Harder, H.G., Ambreen, M…. & Links, P.S. (2014). The effects of suicide ideation assessments on urges to self-harm and suicide. Crisis 35(2): 123-131.