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Reducing Suicide Risk Through DBT


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy initially designed for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Due to the nature of the diagnosis, any effective treatment for BPD needs to address and work with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and have a primary goal of reducing suicide risk. Over time, DBT has proven effective for various mental health conditions, and particularly for those with a heightened risk of suicide. DBT incorporates strategies to address and mitigate suicide risk factors, offering hope and support to those struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

1. Emotion Regulation

One of the core components of DBT is teaching individuals how to manage and regulate intense emotions. Suicide risk often increases during emotional crises, making it crucial for individuals to learn healthy ways to identify, understand, and cope with their emotions. By developing these skills, individuals can reduce impulsive actions, such as self-harm or suicide attempts, and improve emotional stability.

2. Distress Tolerance

DBT equips individuals with tools to navigate distressing situations without resorting to harmful behaviors. Learning effective distress tolerance skills helps individuals withstand emotional pain and crisis, reducing the likelihood of engaging in suicidal behavior during times of intense stress.

3. Interpersonal Effectiveness

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is a key aspect of suicide prevention. DBT helps individuals enhance their interpersonal skills, fostering better communication and relationships with others. By strengthening these connections, individuals can reduce feelings of isolation and increase their support network, which are crucial protective factors against suicide.

4. Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices are integrated into DBT to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations in the present moment. This heightened awareness fosters self-compassion and self-awareness, which can be powerful tools in preventing suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

5. Safety Planning

DBT therapists collaborate with individuals to develop comprehensive safety plans. These plans outline specific steps to take when experiencing suicidal thoughts or crises, including identifying triggers, coping strategies, social supports, and professional resources. Safety planning empowers individuals to proactively manage their mental health and seek help when needed.



Find A DBT Treatment Program Near You – Suffolk DBT has locations in Nassau County, Suffolk County and in Manhattan

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a highly effective approach for reducing suicide risk factors and improving overall emotional well-being. Through its focus on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, and safety planning, DBT equips individuals with the skills and tools necessary to reduce the risk of suicide. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, consider reaching out to Suffolk DBT. Suffolk DBT offers Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) for teens and adults on Long Island and in Manhattan, providing comprehensive support and treatment for individuals in need. Contact Suffolk DBT today to learn more about how DBT can help you or your loved one.

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