Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy are types of treatment that are based firmly on research findings. These approaches aid people in achieving specific changes or goals.
Changes or goals might involve:
A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like lessening back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.
Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past.
They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life, not on personality traits.
Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists treat individuals, parents, children, couples, and families.
Replacing ways of living that do not work well with ways of living that work, and giving people more control over their lives, are common goals of behavior and cognitive behavior therapy.
HOW TO GET HELP:
If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet.
You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner.
It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist.
It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees.
They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association.
Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state.
You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations.
You may, of course, visit our website (www.abct.org) and click on "Find a CBT Therapist"
The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition.
These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.
Suicide the third leading cause of death for adolescents. Out of every 100
attempts, 1 adolescent will succeed in committing suicide. In surveys of highschool
students, 8% to 10% report having made a suicide attempt. Suicide
attempts are much more frequent in girls than boys, by approximately a 4-to-1
The suicide rate for adolescents almost tripled between 1950 and 1980. It
continued to rise in the 80s, although less dramatically, with the rate in 1989
equaling the all-time high. The most frequent method of completing suicide was
The most frequent method of attempting suicide is by drug overdose.
Although, in general, overdoses tend to be less deadly than other types of suicide
attempts, the fact that a suicide attempt is by overdose by no means minimizes the
importance of the suicide attempt and should be dealt with in a serious manner by
both family and professionals.
Who Is at Risk for Completing Suicide?
There is no typical scenario for adolescent suicide. More girls attempt suicide,
but more boys complete suicide.
There are other, individual characteristics, called risk factors, that are associated
with an increased likelihood of suicide in adolescents and adults. For
example, a previous suicide attempt increases an adolescent’s chances of eventually
completing suicide. Other risk factors include a family history of suicide,
problems with alcohol or other drug abuse, and access to firearms. Some adolescents
may also have biochemical factors that put them at risk for suicide. These
same factors also increase the risk for suicide in adults.
It is rare for an adolescent to complete suicide without having a psychological
problem, although the problem is often unrecognized until after the suicide. Many
adolescent suicide victims have problems with anger and a history of problem
behaviors such as shoplifting, running away, fighting, and acting without thinking,
often complicated by alcohol or other drug abuse. Others may be depressed, for
example, because they are “loners” who don’t have friends, or because they feel as
if they can never live up to the expectations of others, especially their parents.
What Causes Teenagers to Attempt Suicide?
Despite the seriousness of a suicide attempt, the “last straw” events which
lead teenagers to attempt suicide are very common. They include situations such
as family conflict, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, legal problems, or
school difficulties. The underlying motives for a suicide attempt are often similar
to the motives of adults who attempt suicide, but motives vary from one teenager
to another. Possible motives include really wanting to die, expressing anger,
getting relief from a terrible state of mind, escaping a difficult situation, or being
disappointed by a trusted person.
What Factors Increase Risk?
Evidence supports the idea that suicides are sometimes imitated. In particular,
exposure to the death of a peer by suicide or by another violent
means may increase the likelihood of subsequent suicides among young people
in a community. The availability of firearms coupled with an increased
use of alcohol, especially among adolescents who don’t think before they act,
has been suggested as playing a role in the increased suicide rate.
Adolescents who complete suicide often talk about it or give warning signals prior to the act. These signals may include:
Written or verbal statements about death or the desire to end one’s life;
Giving away personal possessions;
Abrupt changes in mood or behavior, such as ending longterm friendships; and
Signs of depression such as changes in eating and sleeping, apathy, statements about feeling hopeless, and looking very sad.
These signs don’t always mean that a teenager is thinking of suicide, but they should alert others to talk with the teenager about what is on his or her mind.
If at all concerned, parents should not be afraid to ask a teenager if he or
she is thinking about suicide; talking about suicide doesn’t make teenagers
do it! Showing concern and asking questions calmly is the first step when
dealing with a suicidal adolescent. Asking teenagers how they feel and if they
have thoughts of ending their life keeps open lines of communication and
sets the stage for professional intervention. If the teen has a specific plan to
act on a suicidal impulse, the risk is greater and there is a need for immediate
What Can Be Done to Prevent Suicidal Behavior?
School programs that educate adolescents about the problem of suicide
and about what they can do if they or one of their friends has suicidal feelings
may be helpful. Some of these programs help students improve their
problem-solving skills so that they will be better able to handle stress that
might lead to suicidal feelings.
Communities may also want to make sure that high-risk groups, such as
adolescents seen at hospitals after a suicide attempt or adolescents with
other high-risk behaviors such as conduct problems and alcohol abuse,
receive high-quality help from professionals and don’t “fall between the
cracks” of the mental health system.
What Kind of Individual and Family Treatment Is Helpful?
Whenever an adolescent has suicidal thoughts or makes a suicide
attempt, professional help should be sought immediately to protect the adolescent
from self-harm. Once the initial suicidal crisis is over, treatment with
a mental health professional should continue. It often takes a number of sessions
to help adolescents figure out what is happening in their lives that has
led to suicidal behavior and to help them learn ways to better manage these
Behavioral techniques such as problem solving may be particularly helpful
for these adolescents. Family therapy is also indicated in most cases.
Helping family members to communicate better and improve their ability to
resolve conflict may be particularly useful. Medicines also may be helpful in
certain cases, such as with an adolescent who has a depressive disorder.
Treatment must also address the underlying problems that lead to suicidal
feelings and behavior. These problems might include depression, aggressive
behavior, alcohol and other drug abuse, or impulsive behavior. There are
a number of cognitive behavioral treatments that hold promise in addressing
these difficult problem behaviors. If these underlying problems are better
controlled, there is a significant reduction in suicidal feelings and behavior.
For more information or to find a therapist:
Please feel free to photocopy or reproduce this fact sheet, noting that this fact sheet was writen and produced by ABCT. You may also link directly to our site and/or to the
from which you took this fact sheet