The effects of interventions preventing self-harm and suicide in children and adolescents: an overview of systematic reviews
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Background: Self-harm and suicide in children and adolescents are of serious consequence and increase during the adolescent years. Consequently, there is need for interventions that prevent such behaviour. The objective of this paper: to evaluate the effects of interventions preventing self-harm and suicide in children and adolescents in an overview of systematic reviews. Methods: We conducted a review of systematic reviews (OoO). We included reviews evaluating any preventive or therapeutic intervention. The quality of the included reviews was assessed independently, and data was extracted by two reviewers. We report the review findings descriptively. The certainty of the evidence was assessed using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE). Results: Moderate certainty evidence suggests that school-based interventions prevent suicidal ideation and attempts short term, and possibly with long term effects on suicide attempts. The effects of community-based interventions following suicide clusters and local suicide plans are uncertain, as are the benefits and harms of screening young people for suicide risk. The effects of most interventions targeting children and adolescents with known self-harm are uncertain. However, low certainty evidence suggests that dialectical behavioural therapy and developmental group therapy are equally as effective on repetition of self-harm as enhanced treatment as usual. Conclusions: Research on several recommended practices, such as local suicide plans, prevention of suicide clusters and approaches to risk assessment, is lacking. When implemented, these interventions should be closely evaluated. There also is need for more research on treatment for repeated self-harm, including long term follow-up, and in general: possible harmful effects. Policy makers and health providers should consider evidence from population-based studies and adults in preventing self-harm and suicide in children and adolescents. Also, approaches showing promise in treatment of conditions associated with self-harm and/or suicidality, such as depression and psychosis, should be considered.