Suicide Prevention Research | VISN 2 CoE - MIRECC / CoE
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Suicide Prevention Research | VISN 2 CoE

Research at the Veterans Affairs' Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical CenterResearch at the Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention

The VISN 2 CoE houses a robust, multifaceted research program that seeks to advance innovative approaches to preventing Veteran suicide. Consistent with our Center's framework, research domains are designed to inform the development and use of evidence-based prevention strategies across broad categories of risk (universal, selective, indicated) that are coordinated to reflect our mission and goals.

That is, CoE research examines upstream outcomes to alter life trajectories prior to the development of suicidal behaviors, while also intervening to address risk factors for vulnerable Veterans within the health system.

 Meet our investigators to learn more about currently funded research projects.

Linking Research to Practice : News from Our Investigators

Domains of Functional Impairment and Their Associations with Thwarted Belonging and Perceived Burden in Older Adults
A special issue of Clinical Gerontologist focused on Suicide Prevention featured a paper by University of Rochester Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry researchers, including CoE's post-doctoral fellow Emily Bower, Ph.D. This paper examines associations between domains of functional impairment and two forms of social disconnection that are empirically and theoretically linked to suicide in later life (via The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide) -- low (or thwarted) belonging and perceived burden on others (Van Orden et al., 2010). Functional impairment and social disconnection are common characterisitcs of older adults who think about suicide or engage in suicidal behavior. Given the robust associations between suicide in later life and both functional impairment and social disconnection, understanding how these two risk factors may influence each other could increase understanding of the synergistic effects of risk factors for suicide. 

SAVE-CLC: An Intervention to Reduce Suicide Risk in Older Veterans following Discharge from VA Nursing Facilities
Care transitions present a known period of medical risk for older adults and may pose an increased risk for suicide. SAVE-CLC, a telephonic intervention piloted at three VA sites, offers a feasible and acceptable solution to suicide risk in older Veterans returning to the community from VA nursing facilities (Community Living Centers or "CLCs"). Along with colleagues, CoE researcher Kelsey Simons, Ph.D., LMSW and post-doctoral fellow Emily Bower, Ph.D. used a quality improvement approach to aid in the development of this intervention to address the unmet need of integrating mental health care into discharge planning during care transitions.

VA study uncovers critical link between pain intensity and suicide attempts
CoE study conducted by researchers Lisham Ashrafioun, Ph.D., Todd Bishop, Ph.D., Peter Britton, Ph.D., Wilfred Pigeon, Ph.D. and statistician Cathleen Kane, was featured in VAntage Point. Using VHA data, the study looked at Veterans' average pain intensity scores in the year after they began receiving pain specialty services to determine whether pain intensity was associated with sucide attempts.

Medications and Suicide: High Dimensional Empirical Bayes Screening (iDEAS)

A review of 922 prescription medications taken by almost 150 million people over an 11-year period shows that just 10 of these drugs were associated with an increased rate of suicide attempts. 44 drugs were linked to a decrease in suicide attempts, including many that carry a "black box" label from the Food and Drug Administration warning of their association with suicidal behavior. This study using a statistical tool to measure the links between drugs and suicide attempts was published in the Harvard Data Science Review and conducted by several researchers including CoE's Jill Lavigne, Ph.D.