Family therapy helps suicidal teens

Feb. 9, 2010 at 12:22 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say suicidal thoughts and depression were reduced more quickly in teens treated with family therapy than in others.

Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found patients with severe suicidal thinking treated with attachment-based family therapy were at least four times more likely to have no suicide thinking at the end of the treatment, or three months after treatment, than patients given standard treatment.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found family therapy patients also showed a more rapid decrease in depression symptoms.

"Most treatment models mainly work with the adolescents alone, helping them to learn new coping and problem solving strategies," study leader Guy S. Diamond said in a statement. "But adolescents are highly influenced by their parents. This therapy aims to resolve family conflicts and promote family strengths so that the appropriate bond of attachment can protect youth from self harm."

Diamond and colleagues studied 66 children ages 12-17 who came into doctors' offices or emergency rooms with severe suicidal thinking and depressive symptoms. The average age was 15. Three-quarters were African-American and 83 percent were female.

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