A randomised controlled trial of an online self-help program to reduce suicidal ideation.
Around 400,000 Australian adults experience suicidal ideation each year. Many of them are reluctant to seek help despite the importance of early intervention. The internet provides an opportunity to engage with people who are at risk of suicide and offer them evidence-based prevention programs around the clock while maintaining anonymity.
The Healthy Thinking project aimed to implement and test an online self-help program designed to reduce suicidal ideation.
History of the project
Suicidal thoughts are common in the general population and they are often disabling. Despite this, many people who experience suicidal ideation do not seek help from others or support services. Online self-help programs may help to overcome this problem.
The Healthy Thinking project evaluated the effectiveness of an online self-help program designed to reduce suicidal thinking. This program was based on a self-help program developed in The Netherlands that was found to be effective in reducing suicidal thoughts.
A total of 418 Australian adults experiencing suicidal ideation were recruited to an online portal through media and community advertising.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups, and one of these groups received a six-week online self-help program called Living with Deadly Thoughts while the other group received an attention-matched control program called Living Well. The primary outcome measure was severity of suicidal thinking, assessed using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (CSSRS).
Participants who received the Living with Deadly Thoughts program and participants who received the Living Well program showed a reduction in the severity of their suicidal thinking when assessed six weeks, six months, and 12 months after starting the program.
Interestingly, participants who received the Living with Deadly Thoughts program showed greater reduction in suicidal thinking than those who received the Living Well program at the six-week follow-up time point only. These findings suggest that the Living with Deadly Thoughts program is no more effective than the attention-matched control program for the intended purpose of reducing suicidal ideation. Further examination of the conditions under which this online self-help program may be beneficial is required.
- van Spijker, B. A., Calear, A. L., Batterham, P. J., Mackinnon, A., Gosling, J. A., Kerkhof, A. J., ... Christensen, H. (2015). Reducing suicidal thoughts in the Australian general population through web-based self-help: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 16(62). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-015-0589-1
- van Spijker, B. A., et. al. (2018). 'Effectiveness of a Web-Based Self-Help Program for Suicidal Thinking in an Australian Community Sample: Randomized Controlled Trial', https://www.jmir.org/2018/2/e15/
NHMRC Project Grant