Document Type



dialectical behavioral therapy, eMental health, emotion dysregulation, heavy episodic drinking, randomized controlled trial, suicide


Background: The need to develop effective and accessible interventions for suicidal individuals engaging in heavy episodic drinking (HED) cannot be understated. While the link between alcohol use and suicidality is a complex one that remains to be elucidated, emotion dysregulation may play a key role in alcohol-related suicide risk in these individuals. Objective: In the current study, an 8-week Internet-delivered dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills training intervention was developed and preliminarily evaluated for suicidal individuals who engage in HED to regulate emotions. The aim of the study is to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of the therapist-assisted and Internet-delivered intervention, and to inform the design of a subsequent full-scale study. Methods: The study was a pilot randomized controlled trial comparing participants receiving immediate-treatment (n=30) to waitlist controls (n=29) over a period of 16 weeks. Intervention effects will be assessed longitudinally using hierarchical linear modeling and generalized estimating equations, along with analyses of effect sizes and clinically significant change. The primary outcomes are suicidal ideation, alcohol problems, and emotion dysregulation. Secondary outcomes include alcohol-related consequences, reasons for living, skills use, and depression. Results: The trial is ongoing. A total of 60 individuals returned their informed consent and were randomized, of whom 59 individuals were intended to treat. A total of 50 participants in the study were retained through the 16-week enrollment. Conclusions: There is a dearth of evidence-based treatment for individuals presenting with high risk and complex behaviors. Furthermore, computerized interventions may provide a beneficial alternative to traditional therapies. The particular clinical features and treatment needs of suicidal individuals who also engage in HED constitute key domains for further investigation that are needed to consolidate the design of appropriate interventions for this high-risk population. Trial Registration: NCT02932241; (Archived by WebCite at

Publication Date

January 2018

Publication Title

JMIR Res Protoc









Repository URL