Suicide Prevention Programs

Stephen Platt, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This chapter presents a narrative synthesis of the evidence relating to the effectiveness of 13 different approaches (interventions) that have been incorporated into national suicide prevention programs. These approaches are presented in an analytic framework that distinguishes between national and community-based multilevel programs, prevention, and treatment/maintenance. The primary source of evidence are six reviews of reviews published since 2005, supplemented by a small number of systematic reviews and primary studies. We report strongly supportive evidence concerning the effectiveness of structural interventions (restrictions on access to bridges, tall buildings, and railways) and restriction on access to pharmacological agents. Weakly supportive evidence of effectiveness is available for community-based multilevel programs; restrictions on access to firearms and ligature points in institutional settings; settings-based programs (in schools, communities, workplaces, prisons, and the armed forces); education and training targeted at primary care physicians; lithium; cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy; and brief contact. There is insufficient or conflicting evidence concerning the effectiveness of the remaining approaches. We conclude that the evidence base for effective suicide prevention is far from convincing. Major improvement in the extent and quality of collaboration between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners and a considerable increase in funding for evaluation studies in suicide prevention are required if the current knowledge gap about effective interventions is to be bridged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S99-S124
JournalCrisis - The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
Issue numberSuppl 1
Early online date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2020


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