The focus of my career has been on research, teaching, and clinical service in the area of psychotherapy approaches for treating suicidal behavior in adolescents, with some additional work on suicidal adults. I have been dedicated to the “scientist-practitioner” model, in which my research and clinical work reciprocally inform and enhance each other. I have been fortunate to have obtained a significant amount of both research and clinical experience with suicidal behavior, an understudied area in which relatively few people receive specialized training. Despite the fact that suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10-14 year-olds and the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds (CDC, 2015), there is surprisingly little research on effective psychosocial treatments for these youth. It is my mission to continue to contribute to the research literature in this area, as well as to provide high quality, empirically informed training in suicide assessment and treatment to therapists in training and to mental health professionals in the community. Treating suicidal behavior is one of the most difficult challenges faced by clinicians and the loss of a young person by suicide is a devastating outcome. My goals for my research, teaching, and clinical service are to: a) have a broad impact on the field in terms of developing empirically-supported interventions for adolescent suicide attempters, b) disseminate these interventions into the community, c) increase the quality of service provided to suicidal patients by the mental health professionals I have trained (and indirectly, as those I have trained go on to train others), and ultimately, d) prevent adolescent suicide and suicide attempts.

Clinical Focus

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Suicidal and Self-Harm Behavior
  • Adolescents
  • Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology

Professional Education

  • PhD Training: New York University (2001) NY
  • Ph.D., New York University, Clinical Psychology (2001)
  • Fellowship: University of Pennsylvania, Psychopathology Research Center (2003) PA
  • Fellowship: Mount Sinai St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital (2001) NY
  • Internship: Mount Sinai St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital (2000) NY

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

The focus of my research is on adolescent suicidal and self-harm behavior. I am currently one of four Principal Investigators of a multisite NIMH-sponsored RCT of DBT for adolescents at high risk for suicide (NCT01528020: Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotions and Suicide [CARES], PI: Linehan, McCauley, Berk, & Asarnow) aimed at evaluating the efficacy of DBT with adolescents compared to a combined individual and group supportive therapy control condition (IGST).

Clinical Trials

  • Combined Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia for Adolescents at High Risk for Suicide Recruiting

    The proposed research addresses the urgent need to reduce suicide rates among teens. This will be the first study that the investigators know of that will examine the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of augmenting a suicide-focused treatment (Dialectical Behavior Therapy, \[DBT\]) with an evidence-based treatment protocol for insomnia (a digital version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia \[CBT-I\]). The goal of this clinical trial is to learn providing insomnia treatment in conjunction with suicide-focused treatment leads to greater reductions in suicidality and self-harm than suicide-focused treatment alone. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive 6 months of DBT plus CBT-I or to DBT alone and will complete research assessments measuring suicidal ideation, self-harm behavior and insomnia symptoms every four weeks over the course of the study, as well as one post-treatment follow-up assessment. Participants will also wear a device on their wrist (like a Fitbit or wristwatch) for 10 days following each assessment to collect data about their sleep.

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  • Parent Intervention for Psychiatrically-Hospitalized Youth Recruiting

    The purpose of the present study is to conduct a pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT) of a parent coaching intervention for parents of youth hospitalized for suicidal ideation, suicide attempt(s), or non-suicidal self-injury. Parents will receive either the parent coaching intervention (which includes safety planning and behavioral parenting skills training with a clinician and assistance with linkage to follow-up care by a case manager) or treatment as usual (TAU) for the inpatient unit. The long-term goal of the research is to determine if augmenting standard inpatient treatment with additional parenting intervention improves youth treatment response on suicide-related outcomes (i.e., suicidal ideation, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicide attempts). The goal of this pilot RCT is to collect preliminary data needed for a larger RCT, including feasibility, acceptability, safety, tolerability, engagement of the presumed mechanism of change (changes in parent emotions and behaviors), and signal detection of any changes in youth suicide-related outcomes.

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  • Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotions and Suicide Not Recruiting

    Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the US yet there is a paucity of research on effective treatments for this population. The primary aim of the research described in this application is to evaluate the efficacy of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for suicidal adolescents. DBT has an empirical track record with suicidal adults of reducing the incidence, frequency and medical risk of suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-injuries among individuals meeting criteria for borderline personality disorder (BPD). While DBT is widely used in the community with suicidal adolescents, particularly those with difficulties characteristic of BPD such as poor emotion regulation and impulse control, no randomized trial of DBT with suicidal adolescents has ever been conducted. And, while non-randomized trials indicate that the intervention is both safe and effective, without a randomized trial the investigators simply do not know whether DBT for suicidal adolescents is efficacious or not. Given the severity of the problem and the lack of alternative treatments for high risk adolescents, addressing this question is of great importance. The second aim of the research is to analyze mediators of reduced suicidal and self-injurious behaviors in adolescents. 170 adolescents at two sites (Seattle and Los Angeles) will be randomized to DBT or Individual and Supportive Group Therapy (IGST). Both treatments include 6 months of individual and group treatment and adolescents and a parent complete 5 assessments over a 1-year period.

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial. For more information, please contact Spectrum Child Health, 650-724-1175.

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All Publications

  • Remission, Recovery, Relapse, and Recurrence Rates for Suicide Attempts and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury for Suicidal Youth Treated With Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Supportive Therapy. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Berk, M. S., Gallop, R., Asarnow, J. R., Adrian, M. C., Hughes, J. L., McCauley, E. 2024


    To evaluate rates of remission, recovery, relapse, and recurrence in suicidal youth who participated in a clinical trial comparing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Individual and Group Supportive Therapy (IGST).Participants were 173 youth, aged 12 to 18 years, with repetitive self-harm (including at least 1 prior suicide attempt [SA]) and elevated suicidal ideation (SI). Participants received 6 months of DBT or IGST and were followed for 6 months post-treatment. The sample was 95% female, 56.4% White, and 27.49% Latina. Remission was defined as absence of SA or non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) across one 3-month interval; recovery was defined across 2 or more consecutive intervals. Relapse and recurrence were defined as SA or NSSI following remission or recovery. Cross-tabulation with χ2 was used for between-group contrasts.Over 70% of the sample reported remission of SA at each treatment and follow-up interval. There were significantly higher rates of remission and recovery and lower rates of relapse and recurrence for SA in DBT than for IGST. Across treatments and time points, SA had higher remission and recovery rates and lower relapse and recurrence rates than NSSI. There were no significant differences in NSSI remission between conditions; however, participants receiving DBT had significantly higher NSSI recovery rates than those receiving IGST for the 3- to 9-month, 3- to 12-month, and 6- to 12-month intervals.Results showed higher percentages of SA remission and recovery for DBT as compared to IGST. NSSI was less likely to remit than SA.We worked to ensure race, ethnic, and/or other types of diversity in the recruitment of human participants.Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotions and Suicide (CARES);; NCT01528020.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jaac.2024.01.012

    View details for PubMedID 38325518

  • Editorial: Suicide prevention in youth. Child and adolescent mental health Berk, M. S. 2022; 27 (4): 325-327


    Reducing deaths by suicide in youth is an urgent public health goal and effective treatment approaches remain limited. This editorial reviews new research published in this issue of Child and Adolescent Mental health that may inform youth suicide prevention efforts, including an open trial of a new, family-focused group intervention for youth with suicidal ideation and findings showing that life problems associated with presentation to the emergency department for self-harm vary by age and gender. The need for multi-component treatments that have the flexibility to target a range of life problems/risk factors and to include families in treatment is discussed, along with the need to find a way to make such interventions scalable. Finally, this editorial addresses this issue's debate by discussing the role of mindfulness in dialectical behavior therapy for suicidal youth and the need to carefully monitor and further examine the effectiveness and safety of mindfulness with this patient population.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/camh.12604

    View details for PubMedID 36250453

  • Improving Care Linkage for Racial-Ethnic Minority Youths Receiving Emergency Department Treatment for Suicidality: SAFETY-A. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) Kodish, T., Lau, A. S., Belin, T. R., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R. 2022: appips20220129


    OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the effects of Safe Alternatives for Teens and Youths-Acute (SAFETY-A), a brief strengths-based, cognitive-behavioral family intervention, on racial-ethnic minority youths receiving emergency department (ED) treatment for suicidal episodes.METHODS: Participants were 105 racial-ethnic minority youths enrolled in a randomized controlled trial evaluating SAFETY-A versus enhanced usual care for youths receiving ED treatment for suicidal episodes. Analyses examined group effects on care linkage after discharge and adequate treatment dose. A sample of 55 White youths was included for comparison.RESULTS: Racial-ethnic minority youths who received SAFETY-A had higher treatment linkage rates than those receiving usual care. Adequate treatment dose rates did not differ by group.CONCLUSIONS: Racial-ethnic minority youths receiving SAFETY-A had higher treatment linkage rates after discharge than those receiving usual care. SAFETY-A is a promising approach to enhance care continuity and mental health equity for racial-ethnic minority youths at risk for suicide.

    View details for DOI 10.1176/

    View details for PubMedID 36128694

  • Pilot Test of a DBT-Based Parenting Intervention for Parents of Youth With Recent Self-Harm COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIORAL PRACTICE Berk, M. S., Rathus, J., Kessler, M., Clarke, S., Chick, C., Shen, H., Llewellyn, T. 2022; 29 (2): 348-366
  • The Incubator Treatment Development Model: The SAFETY Treatment for Suicidal/Self-Harming Youth COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIORAL PRACTICE Asarnow, J. R., Hughes, J., Cohen, D., Berk, M., McGrath, E., Huey, S. J. 2022; 29 (1): 185-197
  • Trajectories of Treatment Response and Non-Response in Youth at High Risk for Suicide. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Berk, M. S., Gallop, R., Asarnow, J. R., Adrian, M., Avina, C., Hughes, J. L., Korslund, K. E., McCauley, E. 2022


    OBJECTIVE: To examine trajectories of treatment response in suicidal youth who participated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and individual and group supportive therapy (IGST).METHOD: Using latent class analysis across both treatment conditions, we conducted secondary analyses of data from a multisite RCT with N = 173 youth, ages 12-18, with repetitive self-harm (SH, including > 1 lifetime suicide attempt) and elevated suicidal ideation (SI). The sample was 95% female, 56.4% White and 27.49% Latina. Participants received 6 months of DBT or IGST and 6 months of follow-up. Primary outcomes were SH and SI.RESULTS: 63% of the sample were members of latent classes that showed improvement in SI and 74% showed improvement in SH. 13% were "total non-responders," with no improvement in SI or SH. SH non-response emerged at the mid-point of treatment (3 months), with non-responders showing a sharp increase in SH over the remainder of treatment and follow-up. Youth in DBT were significantly more likely to be an SH responder v. non-responder than those in IGST (ꭓ2 [1] =6.53, p=0.01). An optimal threshold cut point using multivariate predictors of total non-response (White, externalizing symptoms, total SH, and SI) predicted total non-responders to DBT with 100% accuracy.CONCLUSION: This is the first study to identify trajectories of both SI and SH response to treatment in a sample of adolescents at risk of suicide. Results may inform personalized treatment approaches.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jaac.2022.01.010

    View details for PubMedID 35122952

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Suicidal Self-Harming Youths: Emotion Regulation, Mechanisms, and Mediators. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Asarnow, J. R., Berk, M. n., Bedics, J. n., Adrian, M. n., Gallop, R. n., Cohen, J. n., Korslund, K. n., Hughes, J. n., Avina, C. n., Linehan, M. n., McCauley, E. n. 2021


    This study evaluated mechanisms, mediation, and secondary/exploratory outcomes in our randomized controlled trial evaluating Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) compared to Individual and Group Supportive Therapy (IGST), expanding on previously reported results indicating a DBT advantage at post-treatment on planned suicide/self-harm outcomes, and greater self-harm remission (absence of self-harm, post-hoc exploratory outcome) during active-treatment and follow-up periods.Multi-site randomized trial of 173 adolescents with prior suicide attempts, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Randomization was to 6-months of DBT or IGST, with outcomes monitored through 12-months. Youth emotion regulation was the primary mechanistic outcome.Compared to IGST, greater improvements in youth emotion regulation were found in DBT through the treatment-period (t(498) =2.36, p=0.019) and 12-month study-period (t(498)=2.93, p=.004). Their parents reported using more DBT skills: post-treatment (t(497)=4.12, p<0.001); 12-month follow-up (t(497)=3.71, p<0.001). Mediation analyses predicted to self-harm remission during the 6-12-month follow-up, the pre-specified outcome because this was the only suicidality/self-harm variable with a significant DBT effect at follow-up: DBT 49.3%; IGST 29.7%, p=.013. Improvements in youth emotion regulation during treatment mediated the association between DBT and self-harm remission during follow-up (Months 6-12, Estimate 1.71, CI 1.01, 2.87, p= 0.045). Youth in DBT reported lower substance misuse, externalizing behavior, and total problems at post-treatment/6-months, and externalizing behavior through follow-up/12-months.Results support the significance of emotion regulation as a treatment target for reducing self-harm, and indicate a DBT advantage on substance misuse, externalizing behavior, and self-harm-remission, with 49.3% of youth in DBT achieving self-harm remission during follow-up.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jaac.2021.01.016

    View details for PubMedID 33539915

  • Commentary: Dialectical behavior therapy with parents of youth at risk for suicide CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY-SCIENCE AND PRACTICE Berk, M. S. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1111/cpsp.12384

    View details for Web of Science ID 000575001100001

  • Sleep in youth with repeated self-harm and high suicidality: Does sleep predict self-harm risk? Suicide & life-threatening behavior Asarnow, J. R., Bai, S., Babeva, K. N., Adrian, M., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, L. D., Senturk, D., Linehan, M. M., McCauley, E. 2020


    OBJECTIVE: To elucidate processes contributing to continuing self-harm in youth at very high risk for suicide, focusing on sleep disturbance, a putative warning sign of imminent suicide risk.METHOD: 101 youth (ages 12-18) selected for high risk of suicide/suicide attempts based on suicidal episodes plus repeated self-harm (suicide attempts and/or nonsuicidal self-injury [NSSI]). Youth were assessed at baseline, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups on measures of self-harm, suicidality, sleep, and depression.RESULTS: Youth showed high rates of baseline sleep disturbance: 81.2% scored in the clinical range on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI); 81.2% reported an evening (night owl) circadian preference. PSQI score was associated with elevated levels of self-harm (suicide attempts and NSSI) contemporaneously and predicted future self-harm within 30days. Rates of self-harm were high during follow-up: 45.0% and 33.7% at 6 and 12months, respectively.CONCLUSIONS: Results underscore the need to move beyond an acute treatment model to prevent recurrent and potentially deadly self-harm, the importance of clarifying mechanisms contributing to elevated suicide/self-harm risk, and the potential promise of engaging sleep as a therapeutic target for optimizing treatment and elucidating mechanistic processes.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/sltb.12658

    View details for PubMedID 32706147

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 Takes Adolescent Suicide Prevention to Less Charted Territory. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine Szlyk, H. S., Berk, M., Peralta, A. O., Miranda, R. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.05.046

    View details for PubMedID 32536511

  • Adapted Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents with a High Risk of Suicide in a Community Clinic: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial. Suicide & life-threatening behavior Santamarina-Perez, P. n., Mendez, I. n., Singh, M. K., Berk, M. n., Picado, M. n., Font, E. n., Moreno, E. n., Martínez, E. n., Morer, A. n., Borràs, R. n., Cosi, A. n., Romero, S. n. 2020


    This study is a pragmatic randomized controlled trial, which compares the effectiveness of an adapted form of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents (DBT-A) and treatment as usual plus group sessions (TAU + GS) to reduce suicidal risk for adolescents in a community health mental clinic.Thirty-five adolescents from a community outpatient clinic, with repetitive NSSI alone or with SA over the last 12 months and with current high suicide risk as assessed by the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), were enrolled. Participants were randomly assigned to undergo either DBT-A (n = 18) or TAU + GT (n = 17) treatments over a 16-week period. Primary outcomes were the difference between NSSI and SA recorded during the first 4 weeks and the final 4 weeks of treatment. Secondary outcomes included changes in Children's Global Assessment Scale (C-GAS), Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (SIQ-JR), and Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II).Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents was more effective than TAU + GS at reducing NSSI, use of antipsychotics, and improving C-GAS. No SAs were reported in the two groups at the end of the treatment. Both treatments were equally effective in decreasing SIQ-JR and BDI-II scores.These findings support the feasibility and effectiveness of DBT-A for adolescents at high risk of suicide in community settings.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/sltb.12612

    View details for PubMedID 31944371

  • Predictors and moderators of recurring self-harm in adolescents participating in a comparative treatment trial of psychological interventions. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines Adrian, M., McCauley, E., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R., Korslund, K., Avina, C., Gallop, R., Linehan, M. M. 2019


    BACKGROUND: In primary analyses, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was associated with greater reduction in self-harm during treatment than individual/group supportive therapy (IGST). The objective of this paper was to examine predictors and moderators of treatment outcomes for suicidal adolescents who participated in a randomized controlled trial evaluating DBT and IGST.METHODS: Adolescents (N=173) were included in the intent-to-treat sample and randomized to receive 6 months of DBT or IGST. Potential baseline predictors and moderators were identified within four categories: demographics, severity markers, parental psychopathology, and psychosocial variables. Primary outcomes were suicide attempts (SA) and nonsuicidal self-injury evaluated at baseline, midtreatment (3months), and end of treatment (6months) via the Suicide Attempt and Self-Injury Interview (Psychological Assessment, 18, 2006, 303). For each moderator or predictor, a generalized linear mixed model was conducted to examine main and interactive effects of treatment and the candidate variable on outcomes.RESULTS: Adolescents with higher family conflict, more extensive self-harm histories, and more externalizing problems produced on average more reduction on SH frequency from baseline to post-treatment. Adolescents meeting BPD diagnosis were more likely to have high SH frequency at post-treatment. Analyses indicated significant moderation effects for emotion dysregulation on NSSI and SH. DBT was associated with better rates of improvement compared to IGST for adolescents with higher baseline emotion dysregulation and those whose parents reported greater psychopathology and emotion dysregulation. A significant moderation effect for ethnicity on SA over the treatment period was observed, where DBT produced better rate of improvement compared to IGST for Hispanic/Latino individuals.CONCLUSIONS: These findings may help to inform salient treatment targets and guide treatment planning. Adolescents that have high levels of family conflict, externalizing problems, and increased level of severity markers demonstrated the most change in self-harm behaviors over the course of treatment and benefitted from both treatment interventions. Those with higher levels of emotion dysregulation and parent psychopathology may benefit more from the DBT.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/jcpp.13099

    View details for PubMedID 31359435

  • Ethical Considerations in Research on Suicide Prediction: Necessity as the Mother of Invention. JAMA psychiatry Roberts, L. W., Berk, M. S., Lane-McKinley, K. 2019

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1228

    View details for PubMedID 31268523

  • Evidence-Based Treatment Approaches for SUICIDAL ADOLESCENTS Translating Science Into Practice Introduction EVIDENCE-BASED TREATMENT APPROACHES FOR SUICIDAL ADOLESCENTS: TRANSLATING SCIENCE INTO PRACTICE Berk, M., Berk, M. 2019: 1–18
  • Management of Suicidal Youth CLINICAL HANDBOOK FOR THE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF PEDIATRIC MOOD DISORDERS Clarke, S., Ragan, E., Berk, M., Singh, M. K. 2019: 391–422
  • Recent advances in understanding and managing self-harm in adolescents. F1000Research Clarke, S., Allerhand, L. A., Berk, M. S. 2019; 8


    Adolescent suicide is a serious public health problem, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is both highly comorbid with suicidality among adolescents and a significant predictor of suicide attempts (SAs) in adolescents. We will clarify extant definitions related to suicidality and NSSI and the important similarities and differences between these constructs. We will also review several significant risk factors for suicidality, evidence-based and evidence-informed safety management strategies, and evidence-based treatment for adolescent self-harming behaviors. Currently, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for adolescents is the first and only treatment meeting the threshold of a well-established treatment for self-harming adolescents at high risk for suicide. Areas in need of future study include processes underlying the association between NSSI and SAs, clarification of warning signs and risk factors that are both sensitive and specific enough to accurately predict who is at imminent risk for suicide, and further efforts to sustain the effects of DBT post-treatment. DBT is a time- and labor-intensive treatment that requires extensive training for therapists and a significant time commitment for families (generally 6 months). It will therefore be helpful to assess whether other less-intensive treatment options can be established as evidence-based treatment for suicidal adolescents.

    View details for DOI 10.12688/f1000research.19868.1

    View details for PubMedID 31681470

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Suicidal Multiproblem Adolescents EVIDENCE-BASED TREATMENT APPROACHES FOR SUICIDAL ADOLESCENTS: TRANSLATING SCIENCE INTO PRACTICE Miller, A. L., Rathus, J. H., Berk, M., Walker, A. S., Berk, M. 2019: 87–115
  • Parental Validation and Invalidation Predict Adolescent Self-Harm PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY-RESEARCH AND PRACTICE Adrian, M., Berk, M. S., Korslund, K., Whitlock, K., McCauley, E., Linehan, M. 2018; 49 (4): 274–81

    View details for DOI 10.1037/pro0000200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000444622400004

  • Parental Validation and Invalidation Predict Adolescent Self-Harm. Professional psychology, research and practice Adrian, M., Berk, M. S., Korslund, K., Whitlock, K., McCauley, E., Linehan, M. 2018; 49 (4): 274-281


    This study was designed to evaluate family processes theoretically implicated in the onset and maintenance of adolescent self-harm. In the present study, we focus on understanding parental validation and invalidation in response to their adolescent in order to estimate the association between parental responses and self-harm in a high risk group of adolescents. We also sought to determine the influence of psychotherapy on parental validation and invalidation over time during participation in a randomized clinical trial of psychotherapy designed to reduce self-harm. Thirty-eight teens (Mage= 14.85; 94.1% female, 55.3% Caucasian, and 17.5% Latino) and their parents participated in three assessments over a six month period corresponding to pretreatment, midtreatment and end of treatment in the trial. Results indicate a robust association between parental validation, invalidation and adolescent self-harm. There were no significant associations observed between parental validation, invalidation, and adolescent suicidal ideation. Observed levels of parental validation and invalidation were not changed during the six-month course of psychotherapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/pro0000200

    View details for PubMedID 30906109

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6424515

  • Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents at High Risk of Suicide JAMA Psychiatry McCauley, E., Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R., et al 2018
  • Implementation of Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Suicidal and Self-Harming Adolescents in a Community Clinic Archives of Suicide Research Berk, M. S., Starace, N. K., Black, V. P., Avina, C. 2018: 64–81


    The object of this research was to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with suicidal and self-harming adolescents treated in a community clinic. A group of 24 adolescents at high risk for suicide were enrolled in 6 months of comprehensive DBT, provided by therapists and trainees at a county-run outpatient mental health clinic serving disadvantaged, ethnic minority clients. Results showed significant pre/post-treatment decreases in suicide attempts, non-suicidal self-injury behaviors (NSSI), and suicidal ideation. Results also showed significant decreases in other suicide risk factors, including emotion dysregulation, depression, impulsivity, BPD symptoms, psychopathology, PTSD symptoms, and substance use, as well as increases in family expressiveness and reasons for living. Treatment retention and satisfaction rates were high. As many youth at risk for suicide will be treated in community settings, findings showing that receiving DBT in a community clinic resulted in significant improvements across a range of suicide risk factors are an important contribution to the adolescent suicide prevention literature.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/13811118.2018.1509750

  • Emergency Department Youth Patients With Suicidal Ideation or Attempts: Predicting Suicide Attempts Through 18 Months of Follow-Up. Suicide and life-threatening behavior Rosenbaum Asarnow, J., Berk, M., Zhang, L., Wang, P., Tang, L. 2016


    This prospective study of suicidal emergency department (ED) patients (ages 10-18) examined the timing, cumulative probability, and predictors of suicide attempts through 18 months of follow-up. The cumulative probability of attempts was as follows: .15 at 6 months, .22 at 1 year, and .24 by 18 months. One attempt was fatal, yielding a death rate of .006. Significant predictors of suicide attempt risk included a suicide attempt at ED presentation (vs. suicidal ideation only), nonsuicidal self-injurious behavior, and low levels of delinquent symptoms. Results underscore the importance of both prior suicide attempts and nonsuicidal self-harm as risk indicators for future and potentially lethal suicide attempts.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/sltb.12309

    View details for PubMedID 27813143

  • Cognitive Behavioral Approaches for Treating Suicidal Behavior in Adolescents CURRENT PSYCHIATRY REVIEWS Berk, M. S., Hughes, J. 2016; 12 (1): 4-13
  • Assessment of suicidal youth in the emergency department. Suicide and life-threatening behavior Berk, M. S., Asarnow, J. R. 2015; 45 (3): 345-359


    Accurate evaluation of suicidal adolescents in the emergency department (ED) is critical for safety and linkage to follow-up care. We examined self-reports of 181 adolescents who presented to an ED with suicidal ideation (SI) or a suicide attempt (SA). Parents also completed self-reports. Results showed fair agreement between parents and youth on the reason for the ED visit (e.g., SI vs. SA) and greater agreement between independent judges and youths than between judges and parents. In accordance with accepted definitions of suicide attempts (e.g., Crosby, Ortega, & Melanson, 2011; O'Carroll, Berman, Maris, Moscicki, Tanney, & Silverman, 1996, p. 237; Posner, Oquendo, Gould, Stanley, & Davies, 2007, p. 1035; Silverman, Berman, Sanddal, O'Carroll, & Joiner, 2007, p. 248), most youth with SA as the reason for the ED visit reported some intent to die associated with the attempt. Finally, youth presenting to the ED with SA did not differ clinically from youth presenting with SI, and almost half of youths with SI reported past suicide attempts. These results highlight the need to emphasize adolescents' reports in clinical decision making, suggest adolescents' defined suicide attempts similarly to published definitions, and show that assessment of past SAs, as well as present suicidal thoughts and behaviors, is critical in determining future risk.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/sltb.12133

    View details for PubMedID 25327838

  • The SAFETY Program: a treatment-development trial of a cognitive-behavioral family treatment for adolescent suicide attempters. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology Asarnow, J. R., Berk, M., Hughes, J. L., Anderson, N. L. 2015; 44 (1): 194-203


    The purpose of this article is to describe feasibility, safety, and outcome results from a treatment development trial of the SAFETY Program, a brief intervention designed for integration with emergency services for suicide-attempting youths. Suicide-attempting youths, ages 11 to 18, were enrolled in a 12-week trial of the SAFETY Program, a cognitive-behavioral family intervention designed to increase safety and reduce suicide attempt (SA) risk (N = 35). Rooted in a social-ecological cognitive-behavioral model, treatment sessions included individual youth and parent session-components, with different therapists assigned to youths and parents, and family session-components to practice skills identified as critical in the pathway for preventing repeat SAs in individual youths. Outcomes were evaluated at baseline, 3-month, and 6-month follow-ups. At the 3-month posttreatment assessment, there were statistically significant improvements on measures of suicidal behavior, hopelessness, youth and parent depression, and youth social adjustment. There was one reported SA by 3 months and another by 6 months, yielding cumulative attempt rates of 3% and 6% at 3 and 6 months, respectively. Treatment satisfaction was high. Suicide-attempting youths are at high risk for repeat attempts and continuing mental health problems. Results support the value of a randomized controlled trial to further evaluate the SAFETY intervention. Extension of treatment effects to parent depression and youth social adjustment are consistent with our strong family focus and social-ecological model of behavior change.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/15374416.2014.940624

    View details for PubMedID 25255931

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4289426

  • Conducting Research on Adolescent Suicide Attempters: Dilemmas and Decisions. The Behavior therapist / AABT Berk, M., Adrian, M., McCauley, E., Asarnow, J., Avina, C., Linehan, M. 2014; 37 (3): 65-69


    Research on effective treatments for adolescent suicide attempters is urgently needed. However, there has been a lack of research in this area. This is likely a result of the multiple challenges faced by investigators working with individuals at high risk of suicide. Based on our experiences conducting a large, randomized clinical trial with adolescent suicide attempters, in this article, we review ways to address these challenges in order to facilitate needed research on suicide prevention in adolescents.

    View details for PubMedID 24954969

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4061763

  • Differential susceptibility in longitudinal models of gene-environment interaction for adolescent depression DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY Li, J. J., Berk, M. S., Lee, S. S. 2013; 25 (4): 991-1003


    Although family support reliably predicts the development of adolescent depression and suicidal behaviors, relatively little is known about the interplay of family support with potential genetic factors. We tested the association of the 44 base pair polymorphism in the serotonin transporter linked promoter region gene (5-HTTLPR), family support (i.e., cohesion, communication, and warmth), and their interaction with self-reported depression symptoms and risk for suicide in 1,030 Caucasian adolescents and young adults from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. High-quality family support predicted fewer symptoms of depression and reduced risk for suicidality. There was also a significant interaction between 5-HTTLPR and family support for boys and a marginally significant interaction for girls. Among boys with poor family support, youth with at least one short allele had more symptoms of depression and a higher risk for suicide attempts relative to boys homozygous for the long allele. However, in the presence of high family support, boys with the short allele had the fewest depression symptoms (but not suicide attempts). Results suggest that the short allele may increase reactivity to both negative and positive family influences in the development of depression. We discuss the potential role of interactive exchanges between family support and offspring genotype in the development of adolescent depression and suicidal behaviors.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0954579413000321

    View details for Web of Science ID 000330358700009

    View details for PubMedID 24229544

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Suicidal Behavior in Adolescence: Linking Developmental Theory and Practice PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY-RESEARCH AND PRACTICE Neece, C. L., Berk, M. S., Combs-Ronto, L. A. 2013; 44 (4): 257-265

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0033396

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322909900008

  • Suicide Attempt Risk in Youths: Utility of the Harkavy-Asnis Suicide Scale for Monitoring Risk Levels SUICIDE AND LIFE-THREATENING BEHAVIOR Asarnow, J., McArthur, D., Hughes, J., Barbery, V., Berk, M. 2012; 42 (6): 684-698


    The Harkavy-Asnis Suicide Scale (HASS), one of the few self-report scales assessing suicidal behavior was evaluated and ideation, was evaluated and predictors of suicide attempts (SAs) were identified with the goal of developing a model that clinicians can use for monitoring SA risk. Participants were 131 pediatric emergency department (ED) patients with suicidal behavior. The HASS and Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC-IV) were administered approximately 2 months after ED presentation. When compared with DISC-IV ratings, sensitivity of the HASS SA items was excellent (100%), and overall classification accuracy was 72%. SA planning was the strongest predictor of SAs.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1943-278X.2012.00122.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312131900008

    View details for PubMedID 23072257

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4584212

  • An Emergency Department Intervention for Linking Pediatric Suicidal Patients to Follow-Up Mental Health Treatment PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES Asarnow, J. R., Baraff, L. J., Berk, M., Grob, C. S., Devich-Navarro, M., Suddath, R., Piacentini, J. C., Rotheram-Borus, M. J., Cohen, D., Tang, L. 2011; 62 (11): 1303-1309


    Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. Many suicidal youths treated in emergency departments do not receive follow-up treatment as advocated by the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Two strategies for improving rates of follow-up treatment were compared.In a randomized controlled trial, suicidal youths at two emergency departments (N=181; ages ten to 18) were individually assigned between April 2003 and August 2005 to one of two conditions: an enhanced mental health intervention involving a family-based cognitive-behavioral therapy session designed to increase motivation for follow-up treatment and safety, supplemented by care linkage telephone contacts after emergency department discharge, or usual emergency department care enhanced by provider education. Assessments were conducted at baseline and approximately two months after discharge from the emergency department or hospital. The primary outcome measure was rates of outpatient mental health treatment after discharge.Intervention patients were significantly more likely than usual care patients to attend outpatient treatment (92% versus 76%; p=.004). The intervention group also had significantly higher rates of psychotherapy (76% versus 49%; p=.001), combined psychotherapy and medication (58% versus 37%; p=.003), and psychotherapy visits (mean 5.3 versus 3.1; p=.003). Neither the emergency department intervention nor community outpatient treatment (in exploratory analyses) was significantly associated with improved clinical or functioning outcomes.Results support efficacy of the enhanced emergency department intervention for improving linkage to outpatient mental health treatment but underscore the need for improved community outpatient treatment to prevent suicide, suicide attempts, and poor clinical and functioning outcomes for suicidal youths treated in emergency departments.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296674000009

    View details for PubMedID 22211209

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3251923

  • Suicide Attempts and Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in the Treatment of Resistant Depression in Adolescents: Findings from the TORDIA Study JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY Asarnow, J. R., Porta, G., Spirito, A., Emslie, G., Clarke, G., Wagner, K. D., Vitiello, B., Keller, M., Birmaher, B., McCracken, J., Mayes, T., Berk, M., Brent, D. A. 2011; 50 (8): 772-781


    To evaluate the clinical and prognostic significance of suicide attempts (SAs) and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) in adolescents with treatment-resistant depression.Depressed adolescents who did not improve with an adequate SSRI trial (N = 334) were randomized to a medication switch (SSRI or venlafaxine), with or without cognitive-behavioral therapy. NSSI and SAs were assessed at baseline and throughout the 24-week treatment period.Of the youths, 47.4% reported a history of self-injurious behavior at baseline: 23.9% NSSI alone, 14% NSSI+SAs, and 9.5% SAs alone. The 24-week incidence rates of SAs and NSSI were 7% and 11%, respectively; these rates were highest among youths with NSSI+SAs at baseline. NSSI history predicted both incident SAs (hazard ratio [HR]= 5.28, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.80-15.47, z = 3.04, p = .002) and incident NSSI (HR = 7.31, z = 4.19, 95% CI = 2.88-18.54, p < .001) through week 24, and was a stronger predictor of future attempts than a history of SAs (HR = 1.92, 95% CI = 0.81-4.52, z = 2.29, p = .13). In the most parsimonious model predicting time to incident SAs, baseline NSSI history and hopelessness were significant predictors, adjusting for treatment effects. Parallel analyses predicting time to incident NSSI through week 24 identified baseline NSSI history and physical and/or sexual abuse history as significant predictors.NSSI is a common problem among youths with treatment-resistant depression and is a significant predictor of future SAs and NSSI, underscoring the critical need for strategies that target the prevention of both NSSI and suicidal behavior.Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA). URL: Unique Identifier: NCT00018902.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jaac.2011.04.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293427800008

    View details for PubMedID 21784297

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3143365

  • Effective Components of TORDIA Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adolescent Depression: Preliminary Findings JOURNAL OF CONSULTING AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY Kennard, B. D., Clarke, G. N., Weersing, V. R., Asarnow, J. R., Shamseddeen, W., Porta, G., Berk, M., Hughes, J. L., Spirito, A., Emslie, G. J., Keller, M. B., Wagner, K. D., Brent, D. A. 2009; 77 (6): 1033-1041


    In this report, we conducted a secondary analysis of the Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) study to explore the impact of specific cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment components on outcome. In TORDIA, 334 youths (ages 12 to 18 years) with major depressive disorder who had failed to respond to an adequate course of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication were randomized to a medication switch (either to an alternative SSRI or venlafaxine) with or without 12 weeks of adjunctive CBT. Participants who had more than 9 CBT sessions were 2.5 times more likely to have adequate treatment response than those who had 9 or fewer sessions. CBT participants who received problem-solving and social skills treatment components, controlling for number of sessions and other confounding variables, were 2.3 and 2.6 times, respectively, more likely to have a positive response. These preliminary findings underscore the importance of receiving an adequate number of sessions to attain an adequate clinical response. Finally, social skills and problem solving may be active elements in CBT for adolescent depression and should be considered in treatment by those working with seriously depressed youths.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0017411

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272404800003

    View details for PubMedID 19968380

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3705725

  • Family Intervention for Suicide Prevention: A Specialized Emergency Department Intervention for Suicidal Youths PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY-RESEARCH AND PRACTICE Asarnow, J. R., Berk, M. S., Baraff, L. J. 2009; 40 (2): 118-125

    View details for DOI 10.1037/a0012599

    View details for Web of Science ID 000265245900002

  • The Sting of Lack of Affection: Chronic Goal Dissatisfaction in Transference SELF AND IDENTITY Berk, M. S., Andersen, S. M. 2008; 7 (4): 393-412
  • Pediatric emergency department suicidal patients: Two-site evaluation of suicide ideators, single attempters, and repeat attempters JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY Asarnow, J. R., Baraff, L. J., Berk, M., Grob, C., Devich-Navarro, M., Suddath, R., Piacentini, J., Tang, L. 2008; 47 (8): 958-966


    Reducing youth suicide and suicide attempts are national priorities. Suicidal youth emergency department (ED) patients are at high risk for repeat and fatal attempts, yet information is lacking to guide service delivery. In one of the largest clinical studies of youth ED patients presenting with suicidality, we examine ideators, single attempters, and repeat attempters with the aim of clarifying optimal strategies for ED management and risk assessment.Consecutively admitted suicidal youths (10-18 years) from two EDs (N = 210) completed a questionnaire assessing sociodemographic, clinical, service use, and environmental stress variables.Despite differences in background characteristics, high levels of depression, externalizing behavior, posttraumatic stress symptoms, substance use, and thought problems were observed across sites. Suicide attempt risk, defined along a continuum ranging from ideation to single attempts to repeat attempts, was predicted by higher levels of clinical symptoms, service use, and environmental stress. Specific stresses associated with increased suicide attempt risk were romantic breakups, exposure to suicide/suicide attempts, and pregnancy in self or partner. Significant predictors of attempt risk in the male-only subgroup were depression, thought problems, previous ED visits, and romantic breakups.Pediatric ED patients presenting with suicidal ideation, single attempts, and repeat attempts fall along a continuum of increasing risk. Suicide attempt risk in males is associated with high levels of depression, but not with increased treatment rates, suggesting undertreatment in males, a group with particularly high risk for death by suicide. Treatment barriers must be addressed to achieve our national goal of reducing suicide/suicide attempts in youths.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/CHI.0b013e3181799ee8

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258043800017

    View details for PubMedID 18596552

  • Characteristics of recent suicide attempters with and without Borderline Personality Disorder. Archives of suicide research Berk, M. S., Jeglic, E., Brown, G. K., Henriques, G. R., Beck, A. T. 2007; 11 (1): 91-104


    The present research compared recent suicide attempters with and without a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). One hundred and eighty recent suicide attempters, recruited in the Emergency Department, participated in extensive research interviews. Results showed that suicide attempters with BPD displayed greater severity of overall psychopathology, depression, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, past suicide attempts, and had poorer social problem solving skills than those without a BPD diagnosis. No differences were found between the groups regarding the intent to die or lethality associated with the index suicide attempt. These findings highlight the seriousness of BPD and the risk that individuals diagnosed with this disorder will attempt suicide.

    View details for PubMedID 17178645

  • A cognitive therapy intervention for suicide attempters: An overview of the treatment and case examples COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIORAL PRACTICE Berk, M. S., Henriques, G. R., Warman, D. M., Brown, G. K., Beck, A. T. 2004; 11 (3): 265-277
  • History of multiple suicide attempts as a behavioral marker of severe psychopathology AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY Forman, E. M., Berk, M. S., Henriques, G. R., Brown, G. K., Beck, A. T. 2004; 161 (3): 437-443


    Individuals with a differing number of past suicide attempts are generally considered a homogeneous group, despite emerging evidence to the contrary. The current study aimed to test the hypothesis that multiple suicide attempters would exhibit a more severe clinical profile than single suicide attempters.A series of self-report batteries and clinical interviews was administered to 39 single attempters and 114 multiple attempters who came to an urban hospital emergency room after a suicide attempt. The participants were predominantly poor and nonwhite.Multiple suicide attempters versus single attempters exhibited a greater degree of deleterious background characteristics (e.g., a history of childhood emotional abuse, a history of family suicide), increased psychopathology (e.g., depression, substance abuse), higher levels of suicidality (e.g., ideation), and poorer interpersonal functioning. Profile differences existed even after control for borderline personality disorder.Results indicate that multiple attempters display more severe psychopathology, suicidality, and interpersonal difficulties and are more likely to have histories of deleterious background characteristics than single attempters. Moreover, these differences cannot be explained by the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Results suggest that the identification of attempt status is a simple, yet powerful, means of gauging levels of risk and psychopathology.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221276000008

    View details for PubMedID 14992968

  • The impact of past relationships on interpersonal behavior: Behavioral confirmation in the social-cognitive process of transference JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Berk, M. S., Andersen, S. M. 2000; 79 (4): 546-562


    This study extended research on transference in social perception (e.g., S. M. Andersen, I. Reznik, & L. M. Manzella, 1996) into the realm of social behavior by examining behavioral confirmation (e.g., M. Snyder, 1992) in transference. Each perceiver participated in a brief conversation with a naive target participant, who either did or did not appear to resemble the perceiver's own positively or negatively regarded significant other. Trained judges rated positive affect expressed in targets' behavior. As predicted, targets expressed more positive affect in their behavior when they allegedly resembled the perceiver's own positively versus negatively toned significant other, an effect not found in the control condition. This evidence demonstrates behavioral confirmation in transference, suggesting a means by which present relationships may resemble past ones.

    View details for DOI 10.1037//0022-3514.79.4.546

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089712600005

    View details for PubMedID 11045738