Skip to content Skip to navigation

Purpose as a Treatment Intervention for Suicidal Adolescents

Publication Authors: 
Heather Malin and Michele Berk
Publication Year: 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-to-24-year-olds in the US. Several treatment methods have proven to reduce suicidal behaviors with moderate success. One approach, Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), integrates individual therapy and training in skills such as mindfulness and emotional regulation to help patients build a “life worth living.” Clinicians using DBT hypothesize it would be more effective if patients also reflected on what gives them a sense of purpose in life because purpose is related to protective factors for suicidal behavior such as hopefulness, self-worth, and connection to others. To examine this hypothesis, we are testing the Youth Purpose Interview as an intervention with adolescents (n = 10) who receive DBT for suicidal ideation. This paper presents the theoretical foundation of this study, arguing that DBT with purpose awareness can help patients build a life worth living. Initial findings from the interview study will be presented.