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Maltreatment and Suicide


ABCT member Mitch Prinstein comments on the following article related to the link between childhood abuse and adult suicide.

This article offers a spotlight on the remarkably high rates of suicide among individuals across the world who have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment in childhood. Suicide remains an extraordinarily high priority area for psychological research and for treatment development, as few treatment approaches have demonstrated efficacy for reducing future suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Moreover, although researchers have identified a host of distal risk factors that may increase the likelihood of suicidal behavior months or even years later, remarkably little is known regarding the proximal processes that may occur between a stressful experience and an individuals’ consideration or engagement in suicidal behavior. These are important directions for psychological scientists to consider, and exciting areas of inquiry for young scholars who are looking for research topics that need greater attention, with findings that can have maximal impact on saving lives.

For more information about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for suicidal thoughts, read this fact sheet 

To find a provider who can help, check out our Find A Therapist directory here

Related Information

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help 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 reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral 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. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

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 ( 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.