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Psychosocial interventions for suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts: A database of randomised controlled trials

Helen Christensen1*, Alison L Calear2, Bregje Van Spijker2, John Gosling2, Katherine Petrie1, Tara Donker134 and Katherine Fenton2

Author Affiliations

1 Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, Hospital Road, Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales 2031, Australia

2 Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

3 Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Psychiatry 2014, 14:86  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-86

Published: 25 March 2014



Research in suicide prevention using psychosocial interventions is rapidly advancing. However, randomised controlled trials are published across a range of medical, psychological and sociology journals, and it can be difficult to locate a full set of research studies. In this paper, we present a database of randomised controlled outcome studies on psychosocial interventions targeting suicidal behaviour. The database is updated annually and can be accessed by contacting the corresponding author.


A comprehensive literature search of the major bibliographical databases (PsycINFO; PubMed; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) was conducted for articles published between 1800 to July 30 2013, and examined reference lists of previous relevant reviews and included papers to locate additional references. Studies were included if they featured a randomised controlled design in which the effects of a psychosocial intervention were compared to a control condition (no intervention, attention placebo, wait-list, treatment-as-usual [TAU]), another psychosocial intervention or a pharmacological intervention. In total, 12,250 abstracts were identified. Of these, 131 studies met eligibility criteria and were included. Each paper was then coded into categories of participant characteristics (age, gender, formal diagnosis, primary reason for recruitment); details of the intervention (recruitment setting, content, intervention setting, administering individual, delivery type, delivery format, delivery frequency, delivery length); and study characteristics (control and experimental conditions, primary outcome/s, secondary outcome/s, follow-up period). One paper has been published from the database using studies collected and coded prior to 2012.


The database and listing of 131 studies is available for use by suicide prevention researchers. It provides a strong starting point for systematic reviews and meta-analyses of treatments and interventions. It will be updated yearly by researchers funded through the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence for Suicide Prevention (CRESP), located at the Black Dog Institute, Australia. This database adds to the evidence base of best-practice psychosocial interventions for suicidal behaviour and prevention.

Suicide; Psychological interventions; Randomised controlled trials; Prevention; Database; Meta-analysis; Systematic review