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Top Therapy for Suicidal Thoughts


If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is important to take it seriously. Even if they are not planning for the immediate future, speaking to a mental health professional is best. Professional intervention and therapy for suicidal thoughts can help relieve symptoms of stress, depression, and other issues that cause a person to think about ending their own life.

We have compiled a list of some of the top types of therapy and treatments used to help those experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors. There are many different options to try, and when they are combined with prescription medications, they are very effective in treating this condition.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Suicidal Ideation

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for suicidal ideation is effective because it helps individuals challenge negative worldviews and unhelpful or harmful thought patterns and understand how their thoughts relate to their feelings and actions. CBT is highly effective in treating people who have suicidal thoughts, and it often works relatively quickly, with people seeing results in as few as 10 sessions in some cases.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Prevention through Acceptance

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for suicidal thoughts (for suicidal prevention) works well because it helps a person learn new techniques to regulate emotions and tolerate distress. It uses mindfulness techniques to ground individuals in the now while teaching acceptance of life as it is. Acceptance without distress can help a person experiencing suicidal thoughts as they accept reality without suffering.   

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) for Suicidal Tendencies

Experts often recommend IPT (Interpersonal Therapy) for suicidal tendencies because it helps patients focus on present issues and current problems, using hope and support to motivate positive change. Working on problematic relationship issues can reduce stress, help patients deal with big life changes, and form new, healthy relationships with themselves, all of which can reduce suicidal feelings.

psychotherapy for suicidal patients

Psychodynamic Therapy: Understanding Suicidal Feelings

Mental health experts often utilize psychodynamic therapy to understand suicidal feelings. This type of therapy delves into the patient’s subconscious motives and unresolved conflicts to improve their self-awareness and their own understanding of the influence of their past on their present behavior. By healing the underlying causes of depression, anxiety, and distress, the patient may feel better about themselves and their life as a whole, reducing instances of suicidal ideation.

Mindfulness and Meditation Techniques: Coping Mechanisms

Mindfulness and meditation techniques for coping with suicidal thoughts may sound unscientific or new-age. Still, these techniques have been proven to help patients become more grounded in the present, reducing intense emotional pain.

Mindfulness is the simple act of noticing, with full awareness, where you are, what you feel, and what you see. Patients can take themselves down from extreme emotional heights by using breathing techniques, focusing their attention on the now, and erasing all past and future worries from their minds.

Meditation is a way of clearing the mind and focusing, and it can help reduce anxiety and stress in individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts. It can also help a person to increase their self-awareness, understand the mind-body connection better, and practice noticing and dismissing unhelpful thoughts and emotions within themselves.

The main benefit of both of these practices is stress reduction. When combined with other types of therapy and prescription medications, mindfulness and meditation are highly effective co-treatments for people experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Top 5 Therapies That Can be Used to Treat Suicidal Thoughts

How quickly can one expect results from therapy for suicidal thoughts?

It completely depends on the individual. For some, it could take just a few sessions of CBT to start feeling better, while others may be in therapy for years. Serious depression and other mental illnesses can be chronic, lasting a lifetime, but patients can live a satisfying, healthy life through ongoing therapy and medication management.

Are all therapy methods equally effective for everyone?

No, everyone is unique with different experiences, brain chemistries, and social upbringing. You cannot expect that the same psychodynamic therapy for depression for suicidal feelings will work the same on patient A as on patient B. For some, cognitive behavioral therapy may be better; for others, lifestyle changes and medication may be the key.

How can one choose the best therapy approach for their specific needs?

It is often best to ask your doctor or a mental health professional about the therapies available. Finding the right fit may take some time, so don’t be too discouraged if you do not find a specific methodology helpful. There is always something else that may work better for you.

Are there any potential risks or side effects associated with these therapies?

In rare cases, psychotherapy can trigger people with suicidal thoughts, as they may remember unpleasant past experiences and feelings. It is normal to feel worse before you feel better, so medication and strong support are also necessary during treatment.

Changing how you think and behave can also be very difficult and can result in changes to relationships that can disrupt a person’s way of life.

Can these therapies be combined with medication treatments?

Yes, psychotherapy for suicidal patients, like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, Neurotherapy, and holistic treatments, can be combined with prescription medications. It is often the best action, as medications can reduce symptoms. At the same time, therapy can help the patient work to understand and heal the underlying causes of suicidal thoughts and feelings.

How crucial is it to have a therapist specialized in treating suicidal ideation?

A therapist who is well-versed in suicidal ideation will be more likely to understand and treat patients having these thoughts. It takes an empathetic, non-judgmental individual to treat a person with these issues, as they often feel as though nobody can understand them or think that they will be judged for their thoughts.

Can therapy alone be sufficient in treating severe suicidal tendencies?

When a person has severe or ongoing suicidal thoughts, the best treatment is therapy with prescription medications like antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, or anti-anxiety medications. These can reduce symptoms that cause suicidal feelings.

If you or a loved one has harmed themselves or is in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911 immediately or visit a hospital emergency room. Suicide hotline numbers are also available to call anytime, day or night, without judgment. These numbers are:

  • 911 for emergencies
  • 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (or to talk with somebody online)
  • 1-888-628-9454 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Spanish language line
  • Veterans can call 988, press 1, or text 838255 (online chatting is available at
  • 1-866-498-6399 to learn more about treatment options, therapy that can address the root causes of suicidal thoughts, medications, and other treatments available at Alter Behavioral Health.

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