The Self-help Online against Suicidal thoughts (SOS) trial: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Charlotte Mühlmann*, Trine Madsen, Carsten Hjorthøj, Ad Kerkhof, Merete Nordentoft, Annette Erlangsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Suicidal thoughts are common, causing distress for millions of people all over the world. However, people with suicidal thoughts might not access support due to financial restraints, stigma or a lack of available treatment offers. Self-help programs provided online could overcome these barriers, and previous efforts show promising results in terms of reducing suicidal thoughts. This study aims to examine the effectiveness of an online self-help intervention in reducing suicidal thoughts among people at risk of suicide. The Danish Self-help Online against Suicidal thoughts (SOS) trial is a partial replication of a previously conducted Dutch trial. Methods and design: A randomized, waiting-list controlled trial with 1:1 allocation ratio will be carried out. A total of 438 people with suicidal thoughts will be recruited from the Danish suicide hotline, The Lifeline's, website and allocated to the intervention condition (N = 219) or the control condition (N = 219). The intervention condition consists of a 6-week, Internet-based self-help therapy intervention. The format of the intervention is self-help, but the participants can be guided by the trial manager. The control condition consists of a waiting-list assignment for 32 weeks. The primary outcomes are frequency and intensity of suicidal thoughts. Secondary outcome measures include depressive symptoms, hopelessness, worrying, quality of life, costs related to health care utilization and production loss. Number of deliberate self-harm episodes, suicides and deaths will, as well as the participant's evaluation of the intervention and the experience of negative effects, be investigated. Assessments will be conducted over the intervention website through self-report questionnaires at baseline, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks and 32 weeks (6 months post intervention). Discussion: If we find the intervention to be linked to reductions in suicidal thoughts, this will strengthen the evidence that online self-help interventions are relevant tools for people with suicidal thoughts. Trial registration:, NCT02872610. Registered on 9 August 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2017


  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Internet intervention
  • Online intervention
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Self-help
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicidal thoughts


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