"Most treatment models mainly work with the adolescents alone, helping them to learn new coping and problem solving strategies," says study leader Guy S. Diamond, Ph.D., director of the Center for Family Intervention Science at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "But adolescents are highly influenced by their parents. Family conflict, chaos, and strife can contribute to youth suicide, while at the same time family love, trust, and communication can buffer against it. This therapy aims to resolve family conflicts and promote family strengths so that the appropriate bond of attachment can protect youth from self harm."
The researchers studied 66 children between the ages of 12 and 17 who presented in primary care or emergency rooms with severe suicidal thinking and depressive symptoms. The average age was 15, about three quarters were African American and 83 percent were female. Parent participation was required.
"Parents are not viewed as the problem, but as the curative medicine," Diamond says. "They are the key to keeping lines of communication open in order to monitor against suicidal behavioral. And while no treatment is perfect for all patients, helping any family through a youth's suicide crisis is important."
Diamond says his team's future studies will focus on a broader population of patients, stronger comparison treatments, and long term outcomes to better assess treatment benefits.
SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia