August 8, 2010, Updated September 24, 2012

Adolescents with suicidal thoughts and elevated depression have better and faster reduction of symptoms when treated with family therapy than with private therapy, according to a study by a team that included senior lecturer Dr. Gary Diamond from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Karni Shelef Ph.D. of Achva Academic College of Israel.

The research, conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, showed that patients with severe suicidal thinking who received Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT) were four times more likely to have no suicidal thoughts at the end of the treatment or three months after treatment, than patients receiving standard treatment. Patients in ABFT also showed a more rapid decrease in depression symptoms and stayed in treatment longer than in community care.

Diamond, one of the primary developers of the ABFT model explains, “The idea behind ABFT is to improve the quality of the parent-adolescent relationship. Research has shown that family conflict, criticism and detachment can contribute to adolescents’ suicidal thoughts and acts. On the other hand, family acceptance, love and support decrease the likelihood for suicide by increasing adolescents’ sense of esteem and connection.”

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in American adolescents.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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