suicide, mental health, existential therapy, suicidality, adolescence


In this work we discuss common forms of treatment for suicidality and suicidality among adolescents. Vastly pervasive, crisis intervention-based treatment is found throughout nearly all suicidality treatments regardless of client age or intervention site. Crisis intervention-based approaches often overlook many crucial elements of suicidality in adolescents. We therefore explore elements of existential therapy and their potential merit in treatment for suicide among adolescents. These include existential angst and despair, meaninglessness and isolation. These elements are strong predictors of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents. While the common crisis-based treatment appropriately addresses immediate safety needs, it can neglect and even exacerbate the existential features that contribute to ongoing, long-term depression and suicidality. Finally, we present three principles of existential therapy with example interventions (theoretical) that can be flexibly applied in clinical settings with depressed and suicidal adolescents. An illustrative case study, which draws on our clinical experience, further details how this existential style might be applied in a typical clinical setting with a suicidal adolescent.

Original Publication Citation

*Lybbert, R., *Ryland, S., & Bean, R. A. (2019). Existential interventions for adolescent suicidality: Practical interventions to target the root causes of adolescent distress. Children and Youth Services Review, 100, 98-104.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Children and Youth Services Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor