Safety planning-type interventions for suicide prevention: Meta-analysis

C. Nuij, W. Van Ballegooijen, D. De Beurs, D. Juniar, A. Erlangsen, G. Portzky, R.C. O'Connor, J.H. Smit, A. Kerkhof, H. Riper

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.Background Safety planning-type interventions (SPTIs) for patients at risk of suicide are often used in clinical practice, but it is unclear whether these interventions are effective. Aims This article reports on a meta-analysis of studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of SPTIs in reducing suicidal behaviour and ideation. Method We searched Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Scopus from their inception to 9 December 2019, for studies that compared an SPTI with a control condition and had suicidal behaviour or ideation as outcomes. Two researchers independently extracted the data. To assess suicidal behaviour, we used a random-effects model of relative risk based on a pooled measure of suicidal behaviour. For suicidal ideation, we calculated effect sizes with Hedges' g. The study was registered at PROSPERO (registration number CRD42020129185). Results Of 1816 unique abstracts screened, 6 studies with 3536 participants were eligible for analysis. The relative risk of suicidal behaviour among patients who received an SPTI compared with control was 0.570 (95% CI 0.408-0.795, P = 0.001; number needed to treat, 16). No significant effect was found for suicidal ideation. Conclusions To our knowledge, this is the first study to report a meta-analysis on SPTIs for suicide prevention. Results support the use of SPTIs to help preventing suicidal behaviour and the inclusion of SPTIs in clinical guidelines for suicide prevention. We found no evidence for an effect of SPTIs on suicidal ideation, and other interventions may be needed for this purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-426
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


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