Suicide Prevention Research - MIRECC / CoE
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Suicide Prevention Research

Research at the Veterans Affairs' Northwest Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical CenterAbout Our Research

The 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

Communicating with at-risk Veterans about suicide risk during transition from military service
CoE Co-Research Director Elizabeth Karras-Pilato, Ph.D., was recently awarded a four-year IIR grant from VA's Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Service to develop communication strategies targeting Veterans in their first year post-discharge from the military. Messages will be tailored to increase treatment seeking among those Veterans at risk for suicide but hesitant to seek help. This is the first known clinical trial to examine the use of messaging to promote help seeking among any population at risk for suicide.

Initial session effects of brief CBT for Insomnia
Traditionally cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is delivered over six to eight sessions; however, researchers at the CoE examined session by session effects of even briefer therapy. In a pilot clinical trial led by Todd Bishop, Ph.D., investigators measured the effects of a brief, four-session version of CBT-I (bCBTi) on both insomnia and depression. All Veteran participants received four, weekly, individualized sessions of bCBTi during which they provided self-report data on insomnia, depression and sleep parameters. Analyses revealed that the majority of treatment effects occur over the first two bCBTi sessions, suggesting that brief interventions addressing insomnia may have a positive impact on both insomnia and co-occurring depression.

Lethal means safety training for families and caregivers of at-risk Veterans
In December 2020, the New York State Health Foundation awarded a grant to CoE and VISN2 MIRECC investigators to expand the reach and further adapt the Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) training model across New York State. CALM teaches health care providers strategies to reduce patients' access to lethal means during times of emotional crises. Unde this grant, researchers aim to increase CALM's uptake among clinicians throughout the state as well as adapt CALM training to a Veteran family and caregiver audience. Researchers will conduct extensive outreach and engagement among clinical networks to educate clinicians on the importance of lethal means safety and how to integrate these trainings within their organizations. Additionally, focus groups with Veterans and their family memembers and/or caregivers will be conducted to obtain feedback about aspects of firearm safety, storage, suicide risk and communication. Findings will be used to tailor and deliver CALM to families and caregivers of Veterans in both online and in-person formats.

2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report Released
As the most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide data, the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Annual Report documents the continuing problem of suicide among U.S. adults and Veterans and highlights the need for ongoing efforts to mitigate suicide risks. The Data & Analytics team the CoE for Suicide Prevention played a key role in the development of this year's report. In addition to supporting the annual report, our team manages the process for accessing VA's all-cause mortality death data, including suicide, through the VA Mortality Data Repository (MDR). Through October 2020, the MDR has supported over 170 VA research and operations projects, including 46 specifically focused on examining suicide mortality in the Veteran population.