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Dr. Bryann DeBeer

Rocky Mountain MIRECC for VA Suicide Prevention - Bryann DeBeer
Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention

Updated: 13 October 2020


Dr. Bryann DeBeer
Title: Director, VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry – Suicide Prevention Collaborative, Clinical Research Psychologist
Dr. Bryann DeBeer is the Director of the VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry – Suicide Prevention Collaborative, a Clinical Research Psychologist at the VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Suicide Prevention, and a Visiting Associate Professor at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. DeBeer received her B.A. in psychology and fine arts from New York University in 2003. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012, and obtained her clinical license in 2014. She joined the Rocky Mountain MIRECC in 2020. Dr. DeBeer has extensive experience in longitudinal assessment, treatment development, and clinical trials, particularly related to PTSD, suicide risk, and complex comorbidities in Veterans. Dr. DeBeer serves as a panel member of the VA Clinical Science Research and Development Data Monitoring Committee.

Year of Licensure: 2014


Clinical Interests: Dr. DeBeer’s clinical interests are focused on the intersection between posttraumatic stress disorder and other complex comorbidities experienced by Veterans, and suicide risk. Dr. DeBeer is also interested in how social support and social interaction improve recovery from mental health disorders, and act as a protective buffer from suicide risk. Dr. DeBeer is committed to improving interventions for PTSD and suicide risk through the development of novel treatments based on state-of-the-art science.


Statement of Research Program:

The arc of Dr. DeBeer’s work focuses on understanding risk factors for self-directed violence in Veterans, translating this information into novel interventions, testing these new clinical practices to create an evidence base, and leveraging implementation science to propel innovations into clinical practice. Dr. DeBeer’s research focuses on several interrelated components. Dr. DeBeer is interested in understanding factors that are associated suicide risk in Veterans, particularly in Veterans who experience posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders. Dr. DeBeer is interested in the unique challenges that Veterans face, including deployment factors such as dwell time, exposure to toxins, and combat trauma, among others, and how these unique factors and their interplay with other complex comorbidities result in elevated mental health symptoms, poor functional outcomes, and increased suicide risk in Veterans. Dr. DeBeer is concerned that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will further adversely affect Veterans’ mental health, and has been funded by the VA to study this issue. Dr. DeBeer’s work also examines other potential suicide risk factors, in particular those that are modifiable via treatment. Dr. DeBeer has studied social risk factors, such as social support, social cognition, social rejection, social networks, and involvement of concerned significant others in suicide prevention interventions. Dr. DeBeer’s research indicates that social support is a risk factor for thoughts related to suicide in Veterans. Her work has also revealed that Veterans and their concerned significant others are interested in having a concerned significant other involved in suicide prevention interventions. Dr. DeBeer has leveraged her research in social support to develop a lethal means restriction intervention which involves concerned significant others. Another example is psychological inflexibility, which Dr. DeBeer found is associated with thoughts of suicide over time. Psychological inflexibility can potentially be changed through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Finally, Dr. DeBeer uses implementation science to move best practices and evidence-based suicide prevention activities into clinical practice. She is particularly interested in developing solutions to system gaps related to suicide prevention. As many Veterans at risk for suicide do not come into contact with the VA suicide prevention program, Dr. DeBeer is currently harnessing implementation science to assist community organizations in developing Veteran suicide prevention programs through her work as the Director of the VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry – Suicide Prevention Collaborative. Dr. DeBeer is also currently developing and piloting two new interventions to manage suicide risk in Veterans who are ineligible for care or “dual-users” (e.g., use both VA and community care). Dr. DeBeer’s research has been funded by the VA, DoD, and the American Psychological Association (APA).


Fellowship Applications: Dr. DeBeer is accepting a fellow for the 2021-2023 cycle


Available Projects for Fellows:
Dr. DeBeer is seeking a fellow and has several projects that the fellow could potentially be involved in. Dr. DeBeer Directs the VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry – Suicide Prevention Collaborative. As a part of this work, Dr. DeBeer and her colleagues have developed a novel Veterans suicide prevention learning collaborative that aids community agencies in building suicide prevention programs in their own organization. Dr. DeBeer is also collecting data regarding the impact of the pandemic on Veteran social networks and mental health symptoms. Dr. DeBeer is developing and testing three new interventions: 1) a lethal means safety intervention that involves a concerned significant other; 2) an intervention that provides brief therapy to Veterans who are at risk for suicide, yet ineligible for VA care; 3) an intervention that follows Veterans who are “dual-users” (e.g., receive both VA and community care). The fellow may also become involved in a clinical trial on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Social Support in Veterans with PTSD. The fellow would have opportunities for publication. There may be opportunities for contribution as an author to treatment manuals. Please contact Dr. DeBeer to learn more about her projects and their current status.


Recent Publications

DeBeer, B. B., Matthieu, M.M., Kittel, J.A., Degutis, L.C., Clafferty, S., Qualls, N., & Morissette, S.B. (2019). Quality improvement evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of adding a concerned significant other to safety planning for suicide prevention with veterans. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 41(1), 4-20.

DeBeer, B. B., Kimbrel, N. A., Meyer, E. C., Gulliver, S. B., & Morissette, S. B. (2014). Combined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms interact with post-deployment social support to predict suicidal ideation in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans. Psychiatry Research, 216, 357-362.

DeBeer B. B., Meyer E. C., Kimbrel, N. A., Kittel, J. A., Gulliver S. B., Morissette S. B. (2018). Psychological inflexibility predicts suicidal ideation over time in veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 48(2), 140-148.

DeBeer, B. B., Cook, A., Davidson, D., Gulliver, S. B., Kimbrel, N. A., Kittel, J. A., Meyer, E. C., Morissette, S. B. (2017). Predicting Suicide Risk in Trauma Exposed Veterans: The Role of Health Promoting Behaviors. PLOS One, 11, e0167464. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167464.

DeBeer, B.B., Davidson, D., Meyer, E.C., Kimbrel, N.A., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2017). The association between toxic exposures and chronic multisymptom illness in veterans of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59, 54-60. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000922

Morissette, S. B., DeBeer, B. B., Kimbrel, N. A., Meyer, E. C. & Gulliver, S. B. (2018). Deployment characteristics as predictors of mental health symptoms in OEF/OIF/OND Veterans. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74(4), 637-648.

Kelly, M., DeBeer, B. B., Meyer, E. C., Kimbrel, N. A., Gulliver, S. B., & Morissette, S. B. (2018). Experiential avoidance as a mediator of the association between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and social support: A longitudinal analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy,11(3), 253-359.

Woodward, M.J., Morissette, S.B., Kimbrel, N.A., Meyer, E.C., DeBeer, B.B., Gulliver, S.B., & Beck, G. (2018). A cross-lagged panel approach to understanding social support and posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans: Assessment modality matters. Behavior Therapy 50(3), 769-808.

C’de Baca, J., Castillo, D. T., DeBeer, B. B., & Qualls, C. Rationale and Design of an Efficacy Study of Group Prolonged Exposure for PTSD. (2020). Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 17, 100509. doi: 10.1016/j.conctc.2019.100509.

Peterson, A. L., Foa, E. B., Blount, T. H., McLean, C. P., Shah, D. V., Young-McCaughan, S., Litz, B. T., Schobitz, R. P., Castillo, D. T., Rentz, T. O., Yarvis, J. S., Dondanville, K. A., Fina, B. A., Hall-Clark, B. N., Brown, L. A., DeBeer, B. B., Jacoby, V. M., Hancock, A. K., Williamson, D. E., Evans, W. R., Synett, S., Straud, C., Hansen, H. R., Meyer, E. C., Javors, M. A., Sharrieff, A.-F. M., Lara-Ruiz, J., Koch, L. M., Roache, J. D., Mintz, J., & Keane, T. M.; for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD. (2018). Intensive prolonged exposure therapy for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: Design and methodology of a randomized clinical trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 72, 126-136.

Meyer, E. C., Walser, R., Hermann, B., La Bash, H., DeBeer, B. B., Morissette, S. B., Kimbrel, N. A., Kwok, O., Batten, S., & Schnurr, P. (2018). Acceptance and commitment therapy for co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 31(5), 781-789.

Elliott, T. R., Hsiao, Y., Kimbrel, N. A., DeBeer, B. B., Gulliver, S. B., Kwok, O., Morissette, S. B., & Meyer, E. C. (in press). Resilience facilitates psychological and functional adjustment through greater psychological flexibility among Iraq/Afghanistan War Veterans with and without mild traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation Psychology.

Meyer, E.C., La Bash, H., DeBeer, B.B., Kimbrel, N.A., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2019). Psychological inflexibility predicts PTSD symptom severity in war veterans after accounting for established PTSD risk factors and personality. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(4), 383-390.

Meyer, E.C., Kotte, A., Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B.B., Elliott, T.R., Gulliver, S.B., & Morissette, S.B. (2019). Predictors of lower-than-expected posttraumatic symptom severity in war Veterans: The influence of personality, self-reported resilience, and psychological flexibility. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 113, 1-8.

Kimbrel, N. A., DeBeer, B. B., Meyer, E. C., Gulliver, S. B., & Morissette, S. B. (2016). Nonsuicidal self-injury and suicide attempts in Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans. Psychiatry Research, 243, 232-237.

Kimbrel, N. A., Meyer, E. C., DeBeer, B. B., Gulliver, S. B., & Morissette, S. B. (2016). A 12-month prospective study of the effects of PTSD-depression comorbidity on suicidal behavior in Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans. Psychiatry Research, 243, 97-99.

Hiraoka, R., Meyer, E. M., Kimbrel, N. C., DeBeer, B. B., & Morissette, S. B. (2015). Self-compassion as a predictor of PTSD symptoms in war veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28(2), 127-133.

Kimbrel, N.A., DeBeer, B. B., Meyer, E. C., Silvia, P. J., Beckham, J. C., Young, K. A., & Morissette, S. B. (2014). An examination of the broader effects of warzone experiences on returning Iraq/Afghanistan veterans’ psychiatric health. Psychiatry Research, 226, 78-83.

Current Grants

Patient Safety Center of Inquiry: VA Suicide Prevention Collaborative
Role: Director
The overarching mission is to develop, implement, and evaluate practical solutions to reduce suicide among Veterans who are not receiving VA care. We will develop a toolkit to efficiently disseminate and support implementation of best practices for Veteran suicide prevention among community partners. We will also develop and pilot a program to provide cost-effective suicide prevention for Veterans who are identified by the collaborative as at risk but not currently enrolled in VA services.


The Impact of COVID-19 and Social Distancing on Mental Health and Suicide Risk in Veterans
Role: Principal Investigator
This project aims to assess the impacts of COVID-19 and resulting trauma and social isolation on Veterans’ mental health, and suicide risk. A unique social network analysis approach will be used to elucidate the impacts of social distancing on mental health and suicide outcomes.


Improving Access to VA Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services: A Pilot Study of Intensive Case Management between VA and Community CareRole: Principal Investigator 
The aim of this project is to develop and pilot test a case management intervention tailored to Veterans at risk for suicide who are referred out to the community for healthcare services (e.g., dual-users) in order to ensure timely access to specialty mental health care and strengthen the suicide prevention safety bet.


Involving Concerned Significant Others in Firearms Safety: Development and Pilot Test of a New Intervention to Prevent Suicide in Firearm OwnersRole: Principal Investigator
The goal of the study is to develop, and pilot test an intervention to develop firearm safety plans with Veterans and their concerned significant others. Veterans and their concerned significant others.


Non-Suicidal Self Injury in Veterans
Principal Investigator: Kimbrel; Role: Co-Investigator
This study will prospectively evaluate functional outcomes associated with nonsuicidal self-injury in Veterans and identify treatment-relevant factors that maintain nonsuicidal self-injury. Role: Co-I


Using Large-scale Social Determinants Data to Identify Veterans at Heightened Risk of Suicide: A Data Linkage Project Principal Investigator: Carlson; Role: Co-Investigator
The goal of this pilot study is to demonstrate the feasibility of linking social determinant data from a large data company to Veteran suicide death data. Importantly, these datasets allow the team to analyze risk in Veterans who are not connected to VA care, a high-risk group. Analyses will determine what are the most potent predictors of Veteran suicide death. Role: PI


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