ASSIP: A Novel Intervention For Those With A Recent Suicide Attempt

Developed in Switzerland, the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) is based on the belief that only by understanding the very individualized path to a suicide attempt can one develop effective prevention strategies; individual’s story is central to ASSIP. The suicide attempt is viewed as an action taken in order to reach a goal – often to end unbearable emotional pain – rather than simply a symptom of mental illness. 

ASSIP takes place over three sessions. During the first session, clients are video-recorded telling their story of how they came to harm themselves.  In the second session, the video recording is viewed together by the ASSIP-trained therapist and client. The third session is devoted to developing safety planning strategies for avoiding future suicidal behavior. This information is summarized for the client, family members upon the patient’s request, and other treating providers, serving as a template for reducing future risk in the community. Therapists also send “caring contact” letters for several months after the in-person sessions conclude. 

Swiss researchers conducted a study of 120 individuals who had recently attempted suicide. Half the participants were placed in a control group that received standard therapy, while the other half received ASSIP.  The study found that after two years, the ASSIP group had  approximately 80% fewer suicide attempts and over 70% fewer days in the hospital when compared to the control group. 

ASSIP was introduced to New York in 2018 and initially available only in Syracuse and Rochester. It is now available at several outpatient providers throughout New York State. Individuals must also:

  • Be English or Spanish-speaking
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have had a suicide attempt within the last 60 days
  • Patients with unstable psychosis are excluded

ASSIP is designed to complement, not replace, other treatment; the ASSIP team will coordinate with the client’s primary treatment team. Watch the ASSIP informational video above to learn more. View a list of ASSIP providers in New York State.