Psychosocial therapy to people at risk of suicide in the Danish Suicide Prevention Clinics: a register-based multicenter study

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Although people after self-harm are at elevated risks of repeating self-harm as well as dying by suicide and other causes of death, the evidence for effective interventions is meager. Danish Suicide Prevention Clinics have since 1992 offered psychosocial therapy to persons at risk of suicide in an out-patient setting. The current study examined whether psychosocial therapy after self-harm was linked to lower risks of repeated self-harm, suicide, and general mortality using a propensity score matched comparison group.

All people who, after self-harm, received a psychosocial therapy intervention at seven Suicide Prevention Clinics in Denmark during 1992–2010 were compared with people who did not receive the intervention. Using the unique personal identifiers assigned to all people living in Denmark, clinical data was linked to national register data in this matched cohort study. Propensity score matching was applied with a 1:3 ratio and 31 matching factors, and odds ratios for 1, 5, 10, and 20 years of follow-up were calculated. The examined outcomes were repeated self-harm, death by suicide, and death by any cause.

A total of 5,678 recipients of psychosocial therapy after self-harm were observed over 42,828 person-years and matched with 17 034 individuals with no psychosocial therapy. A lower risk of repeated self-harm and general mortality was found for recipients after short-term and long-term follow-up. On long-term follow-up, a protective effect was also noted for death by suicide.

The presentation will provide an overview of the Danish register data as well as discussing their potential for research.


Annette Erlangsen PhD is an Associate Professor and Program Leader at the Research Unit of Mental Health Centre Copenhagen, Denmark. Furthermore, she is Adjunct Associate Professorship at the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the USA. Dr Erlangsen is dedicated to evidence-based research on prevention of suicide and she has, with colleagues, conducted studies on psychosocial interventions for people at risk of suicide, bereaved by suicide, affected by suicide attempt as well as suicide in high risk populations, research applied to record linkage data. Dr Erlangsen has recently received the Alexander Gralnick Award of the American Association of Suicidology and the Danish Nordentoft Award.