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Psychosocial Approaches to Suicide Prevention: Applications to Patients With Bipolar Disorder

Stephen M. Gray, BA; and Michael W. Otto, PhD

Published: January 12, 2001

Article Abstract

Hopelessness, dysfunctional attitudes, and poor problem-solving abilities are psychosocial riskfactors that have been identified as predictors of suicide. These psychosocial risk factors may helpclinicians apply specific therapies and treatments to patients with bipolar disorder at risk for suicide.A search of the literature on suicide prevention revealed 17 randomized, controlled studies, which theauthors reviewed to determine the efficacy of strategies aimed at eliminating psychosocial risk factorsfor suicide. Three strategies emerged as efficacious: (1) applying interventions to elicit emergencycare by patients at times of distress; (2) training in problem-solving strategies; and (3) combiningcomprehensive interventions that include problem solving with intensive rehearsal of cognitive,social, emotional-labeling, and distress-tolerance skills. On the basis of their review of the literature,the authors make recommendations for suicide prevention for patients with bipolar disorder.

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