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Open Access Study protocol

Future oriented group training for suicidal patients: a randomized clinical trial

Wessel van Beek14*, Ad Kerkhof2 and Aartjan Beekman3

Author Affiliations

1 Symfora groep, Hilversum; EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Vrije Universiteit, Dpt Clinical Psychology, Amsterdam; EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Vrije Universiteit, Dpt Psychiatry, Amsterdam; EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 Symfora groep, locatie Rembrandthof, Postbus 219, 1200 AE Hilversum, The Netherlands

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BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:65  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-65

Published: 7 October 2009



In routine psychiatric treatment most clinicians inquire about indicators of suicide risk, but once the risk is assessed not many clinicians systematically focus on suicidal thoughts. This may reflect a commonly held opinion that once the depressive or anxious symptoms are effectively treated the suicidal symptoms will wane. Consequently, many clients with suicidal thoughts do not receive systematic treatment of their suicidal thinking. There are many indications that specific attention to suicidal thinking is necessary to effectively decrease the intensity and recurrence of suicidal thinking. We therefore developed a group training for patients with suicidal thoughts that is easy to apply in clinical settings as an addition to regular treatment and that explicitly focuses on suicidal thinking. We hypothesize that such an additional training will decrease the frequency and intensity of suicidal thinking.

We based the training on cognitive behavioural approaches of hopelessness, worrying, and future perspectives, given the theories of Beck, McLeod and others, concerning the lack of positive expectations characteristic for many suicidal patients. In collaboration with each participant in the training individual positive future possibilities and goals were challenged.


We evaluate the effects of our program on suicide ideation (primary outcome measure). The study is conducted in a regular treatment setting with regular inpatients and outpatients representative for Dutch psychiatric treatment settings. The design is a RCT with two arms: TAU (Treatment as Usual) versus TAU plus the training. Follow up measurements are taken 12 months after the first assessment.


There is a need for research on the effectiveness of interventions in suicidology, especially RCT's. In our treatment program we combine aspects and interventions that have been proven to be useful in the treatment of suicidal thinking and behavior.

Trial registration