May 24, 2017

Last month, the Menninger Clinic, a renowned mental health care system, released findings of a controlled comparison trial that found that Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) “helps to accelerate the benefits of treatment for suicidal psychiatric patients during hospitalization and post discharge.”

CAMS is an intervention developed by Psychology Professor David Jobes over the last 20 years. The approach provides a framework for therapists to work alongside their patients to develop plans to help them deal with suicidal thoughts and behaviors and find new ways to adapt.

Through the CAMS method, which was largely used in outpatient settings before this study, clinicians are encouraged to sit next to their patients. By doing this, they are literally and symbolically aligned with the patient and are better able to see things through the patient's eyes.

"We're not interested in shaming or blaming the patient," Jobes says. "Our preference is to collaborate with them to understand how they got into such a desperate state. When we learn enough about that with the patient, we can then co-author a potentially life-saving treatment with them."

Results of the Menninger study — the first to evaluate CAMS in an inpatient setting — showed improvement in both those in the CAMS treatment group and those receiving treatment as usual (TAU). However, the CAMS group showed more improvement at discharge.

"This study is a significant advancement in the sense that we now have clinical evidence supporting CAMS as an effective inpatient intervention for patients who present with suicide ideation,” says Thomas Ellis, principal investigator.

“Menninger is at the forefront of this work and I applaud Dr. Ellis and his team for embarking on this research program, examining how CAMS treatment impacts patients during hospitalization and post-discharge,” Jobes says.

For more than 15 years, Jobes has been involved in clinical trials with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and every branch of the U.S. Military to focus specifically on improving their suicide prevention programs. “We’re in it to save lives and make them worth living,” Jobes says.