According to new research, people who suffer with insomnia may experience a reduction in suicidal ideation when they undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy. The research involved 303 people with insomnia and revealed that over one-fifth of them had experienced suicidal thoughts within the previous two weeks. The results revealed that implementing CBT greatly reduced their suicidal ideation. The researchers report that insomnia, and other sleep disorders, are ranked at the top of the list of warning signs for suicide by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
The study is unique because it is the first to examine the effect of intervention for the prevention of suicide in those with insomnia. “This is the first investigation to show that a sleep-targeted intervention has a therapeutic impact on suicide risk specifically,” said lead author Rebecca Bernert, PhD, a fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in California. “This suggests that a treatment focus on sleep disturbances may have important implications for the prevention of suicidal behaviors.”
The study was conducted on clients ranging in age from 18 to 88, all with insomnia. Their level of suicidal ideation was gauged using the Beck Depression Inventory. Each of the participants engaged in CBT specifically designed for insomnia weekly for the duration of the study, with the therapy diminishing to bi-weekly sessions at the end. The subjects were evaluated before the therapy began, and again at its conclusion. The researchers note that these findings are significant, as suicide has outnumbered the amount of homicides each year in recent years. Specifically, suicide was ranked the 10th leading cause of death in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers hope that this study will lead to earlier treatment and intervention for people suffering from insomnia and will ultimately significantly decrease the number of lives lost to suicide.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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