Cognitive behavioral therapy with suicidal older adults

David W. Coon, Helen M. DeVries, Dolores Gallagher-Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article provides a cognitive-behavioral model for psychotherapeutic interventions with suicidal elders. The approach is based on a general model of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with older adults described in Laidlaw, Thompson, Dick-Siskin and Gallagher-Thompson (2003), with specific application to suicidal older adults (Coon & Gallagher-Thompson, 2001). The appeal of CBT in working with older clients is its practical nature and psychoeducational orientation aimed at empowering elderly clients to utilize the techniques outside the psychotherapeutic relationship, with the goal of helping elders develop skills that lead toward better daily self-management and increased life satisfaction. In addition, CBT can be effective in either an individual or group format (DeVries & Coon, 2002). This article begins with abrief review of the characteristics associated with suicide in this population, then describes a CBT model appropriate for use with elders struggling with affective disorders, suicidal ideation, or suicidal behaviors, and ends with a case example illustrating the model's use with suicidal older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-493
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Cognitive-behavior therapy
  • Older adults
  • Suicide
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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