Washington: A team of psychology researchers have developed a simple computer-based approach to treating anxiety, that could in turn reduce suicide risk.
The new device may have major implications for veterans and other groups who are considered at risk of committing suicide.
"We have been using computer delivered interventions for many years, now, in an effort to more efficiently deliver effective treatments," said Brad Schmidt, a psychology professor at the Florida State University in the US.
"This study gives us evidence that a brief intervention may help prevent suicide risk," Schmidt added.
Schmidt developed the treatment by focusing more on fears of losing control of one's thoughts and sanity.
A fully-computerised treatment was, thus, developed, that does not require a therapist or a mental health specialist. Access to a computer was the only thing that was required.
The new intervention, called the Cognitive Anxiety Sensitivity Treatment, or CAST, is a 45-minute treatment that contains videos, interactive features and true-false questions designed to make sure the patient understands the topic.
The programme explains that symptoms such as racing thoughts, the inability to concentrate and others are not dangerous and not an indication that something bad is about to happen.
The team tested the treatment on 108 subjects who had above-average anxiety sensitivity.
The new research can have huge implications in treating people who are at risk for suicide, noted the team.
"Traditional psychotherapy is expensive, requires highly trained personnel and is unfortunately associated with a negative stigma for a lot of individuals," said Aaron Norr, a doctoral student working with Schmidt.
"This means that a large number of people dealing with suicidal ideation won't get the help they need for a variety of reasons. That is why this intervention has so much potential," said the team.
The study appeared in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.