Socio-Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Suicidal Behaviors Shows Promise Reducing Suicidal Behaviors in Hispanic/Latino Teens

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Socio-Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Suicidal Behaviors (SCBT-SB), the first culturally specific treatment developed for Hispanic/Latino teens experiencing a suicidal crisis, shows potential to reduce suicidal behaviors.

When SCBT-SB was compared to treatment as usual in a pilot randomized trial with 46 Hispanic/Latino teens recruited from psychiatric inpatient, partial hospitalization, and emergency department services, both treatments performed similarly, reducing depressive symptoms, internalizing symptoms, and suicidal ideation at 6 months with the benefits lasting 12 months.

The most notable differences between the two treatments were suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Suicidal ideation was reduced in the SCBT-SB group in 63% of the teens at 6 months and in 50% by 12 months (50%); however, for the treatment-as-usual group, the reductions were not maintained during the same periods at 73% and 41%, respectively.

No suicide attempts occurred in the SCBT-SB group from 6 to 12 months, but 36% of teens in the treatment-as-usual group made attempts. Data at 12 months favor SCBT-SB over treatment as usual.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Hispanic and Latino youth 10- to 14-years-old in the United States and the second for 15- to 19-year-olds, according to researchers. In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17% of Hispanic/Latino high school students said they seriously thought about suicide, 15% said they made a suicide plan, and 7% to 11% attempted suicide each year. Few evidence-based treatments exist for teens experiencing suicidal crises, and none have been developed for the needs of Hispanic/Latino teens.

SCBT-SB helps Hispanic/Latino teens and their caregiver(s) understand how their unique family environment and ethnic, racial, and sexual identities influence suicidal behaviors. Following an initial joint “crisis module” with a trained therapist, families select additional modules from a “menu” of topics taught in English and Spanish. Future modules teach skills for communication, parenting, emotional regulation, and managing traumatic experiences and substance use. The entire intervention lasts 3 to 6 months.

Although the results from the pilot show SCBT-SB is feasible to implement and acceptable to Hispanic/Latino families, a larger-scale trial is required to determine whether the findings can be replicated.

Duarté-Vélez, Y., Jimenez-Colon, G., Jones, R. N., & Spirito, A. (2024). Socio-cognitive behavioral therapy for Latinx adolescent with suicidal behaviors: A pilot randomized trial. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 55(3), 754-767.

Page updated June 27, 2024  |  created June 12, 2024