Impact of an online depression prevention intervention on suicide risk factors for adolescents and young adults

Benjamin Dickter, Eduardo L. Bunge, Lisa M. Brown, Yan Leykin, Erin E. Soares, Benjamin Van Voorhees, Monika Marko-Holguin, Tracy R. G. Gladstone


Background: Adolescent death by suicide is an emergent health crisis in the United States of America. Although many suicide prevention programs have been created to address suicide in this population, rates continue to increase. Online interventions can disseminate treatments world-wide and reach large numbers of users. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of CATCH-IT, an Internet-based depression prevention intervention on risk factors for suicide (i.e., suicidal ideation, hopelessness, low self-esteem and social isolation).
Methods: A total of 83 participants aged 14–21 years [mean =17.5; standard deviation (SD) =2.04] consented to take part in the intervention study.
Results: Results indicated that suicidal ideation decreased from baseline to post-intervention. For those who completed the entire CATCH-IT program, the effect size was moderate (d =0.60, P<0.05). For those who partially completed the program the effect size was small (d =0.22, P<0.05). Interestingly, scales measuring hopelessness and social isolation were not associated with changes in suicidal ideation.
Conclusions: The findings provide initial evidence that online depression prevention programs could be related to decreased suicidal ideation, and that those who complete the entire program may benefit more than those who complete only a part of CATCH-IT.