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The literature on treating suicidal patients via telehealth group therapy is sparse. Suicide prevention, assessment, and intervention concerns are particularly alarming when working with veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has estimated that 7 Veterans die by suicide daily (2021).

Published in the Journal for Technology in Behavioral Science in early 2023, a team of researchers led by Sapana Patel published the results of a study that identified and treated high-risk patients through group telehealth systems known as “Project Life Force” (PLF). Initial interest in exploring the stealth possibilities was fueled by the need to find effective interventions for veterans who had chosen to move to rural and frontier areas, in rural or frontier areas, often too far to obtain needed services using traditional in-person care formats. The project’s findings can be helpful to clinicians working with other potentially high-risk, suicidal clients and patients.

Telehealth Group Study Overview

Seventeen participants were enrolled in a 10-week, manualized video group. The study was designed to evaluate the “acceptability, feasibility, and impact” of a telehealth suicide safety planning intervention (SPI). Recognized as a best practice, the brief SPI intervention encourages the client and therapist to collaborate in developing a safety plan to manage short-term suicide risk.

The plan is considered conducive to telehealth because it involves a heavy focus on:

  1. A written, prioritized list of personal suicide warning signs
  2. Internal coping strategies; social contacts or settings offering support and distraction from suicidal thoughts
  3. Contact information for available VA professionals
  4. A crisis line and emergency services
  5. Specific steps for making the immediate environment safer (Stanley & Brown, 2012; Stanley et al., 2008).


The study was conducted…

From Telebehavioral Health Institute – Read More

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