What Works in Youth Suicide Prevention? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jo Robinson, Eleanor Bailey, Katrina Witt, Nina Stefanac, Allison Milner, Dianne Currier, Jane Pirkis, Patrick Condron, Sarah Hetrick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Young people require specific attention when it comes to suicide prevention, however efforts need to be based on robust evidence. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all studies examining the impact of interventions that were specifically designed to reduce suicide-related behavior in young people. Findings: Ninety-nine studies were identified, of which 52 were conducted in clinical settings, 31 in educational or workplace settings, and 15 in community settings. Around half were randomized controlled trials. Large scale interventions delivered in both clinical and educational settings appear to reduce self-harm and suicidal ideation post-intervention, and to a lesser extent at follow-up. In community settings, multi-faceted, place-based approaches seem to have an impact. Study quality was limited. Interpretation: Overall whilst the number and range of studies is encouraging, gaps exist. Few studies were conducted in low-middle income countries or with demographic populations known to be at increased risk. Similarly, there was a lack of studies conducted in primary care, universities and workplaces. However, we identified that specific youth suicide-prevention interventions can reduce self-harm and suicidal ideation; these types of intervention need testing in high-quality studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-91
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Meta-analysis
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide prevention
  • Systematic review
  • Young people

Cite this