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BackgroundSuicidal ideation (SI) is common in chronic depression, but only limited evidence exists for the assumption that psychological treatments for depression are effective for reducing SI. Methods In the present study, the effects of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT; group version) plus treatment-as-usual (TAU: individual treatment by either a psychiatrist or a licensed psychotherapist, including medication when indicated) and Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP; group version) plus TAU on SI was compared to TAU alone in a prospective, bi-center, randomized controlled trial. The sample consisted of 106 outpatients with chronic depression. Results Multivariate regression analyses revealed different results, depending on whether SI was assessed via self-report (Beck Depression Inventory suicide item) or via clinician rating (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale suicide item). Whereas significant reduction of SI emerged when assessed via clinician rating in the MBCT and CBASP group, but not in the TAU group while controlling for changes in depression, there was no significant effect of treatment on SI when assessed via self-report. Limitations SI was measured with only two single items. Conclusions Because all effects were of small to medium size and were independent of effects from other depression symptoms, the present results warrant the application of such psychotherapeutical treatment strategies like MBCT and CBASP for SI in patients with chronic depression.

IntroductionThe aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on suicidal ideation in an open-label randomised controlled trial of patients with residual depressive symptoms. Furthermore, this study aimed at examining whether an effect of MBCT on suicidal ideation was dependent on a reduction in depression severity, worry and rumination, or an increase in mindfulness. Methods One hundred and thirty participants were randomised to a treatment arm (treatment as usual plus MBCT) or a wait list arm. Change in depression, change in worry, change in rumination and change in mindfulness were entered as covariates in a repeated measures ANOVA in order to assess to what degree MBCT-induced changes in suicidal ideation were independent from changes in these parameters. Results There was a significant group × time (pre vs. post) interaction on suicidal ideation indicating a significant reduction of suicidal ideation in the MBCT group, but not in the control group. The interaction remained significant after addition of the above covariates. Change in worry was the only covariate associated with change in suicidal ideation, causing a moderate reduction in the interaction effect size. Conclusions The results suggest that MBCT may affect suicidal ideation in patients with residual depressive symptoms and that this effect may be mediated, in part, by participants’ enhanced capacity to distance themselves from worrying thoughts.