Managing suicidality within specialized care: A randomized controlled trial

Suicide prevention is a core task in mental health services.


BACKGROUND: Our objective was to determine whether Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) reduced suicidal thoughts and behaviors and mental health distress more effectively than treatment as usual (TAU) in a heterogeneous patient population within specialized mental health care services.

METHODS: In this observer-blinded pragmatic randomized controlled trial participants who scored 13 or above on Beck's Scale for Suicide Ideation-Current (BSSI-C) were included from seven in- and outpatient units. Primary outcome was suicidal ideation (BSSI-C). Secondary outcomes were mental health distress measured by the Outcome Questionnaire-45, and suicidal behaviors measured by the Suicide Attempt Self-Injury Count. Patients were assessed at baseline and after 6 and 12 months.

RESULTS: The final intent-to-treat analyses included 78 participants (mean age 35.9 years, SD = 14.5, 41 females). The majority were depressed (65%), had a secondary diagnosis (73%) and 32% suffered from borderline personality disorder or borderline traits. After 6 months, CAMS participants reported lower levels of suicidal ideation compared to TAU (β = -4.29, 95% CI = -8.32 to -0.27, p = .036). Larger changes in mental health distress were observed for CAMS participants after 6 months (β = -11.87, 95% CI = -22.99 to -0.76, p = .036) and 12 months (β = -13.70, 95% CI = -24.88 to -2.51, p = .017).

LIMITATIONS: The modest sample size rendered the trial unable to detect small between-group differences.

CONCLUSIONS: CAMS reduced suicidal ideation and mental health distress more efficiently than TAU in a heterogeneous patient population within specialized care.

Journal of Affective Disorders, 2019, 249, 112-120

Published Apr. 8, 2019 6:00 AM