Suicide Prevention through Outreach (SPOt)

Epi-Aid 2016-018: Undetermined risk factors for suicide among youth, ages 10–24 — Santa Clara
County, CA, 2016

In March 2017, in response to a request from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with their partners released a special report on undetermined risk factors for suicide among youth in Santa Clara County (read the report).

This report presents many areas for growth in the community response and opportunities for intervention.  During the period of 2003 to 2015, the report shows that 75% of youth suicides were by males and that 66% of youth who died by suicide were 20-24 years old.  The report also highlights both positive and negative characteristics related to media reporting on suicide issues in the county. From 2008 to 2015, media coverage of suicides in Santa Clara County frequently deviated from accepted “safe” suicide reporting guidelines.

These two factors – the greater suicide risk for young men and the role of the media – stand out as prevention areas in need of immediate attention.  Therefore, we are looking to fund projects that address these concerns:

(1) Understanding and strengthening the wellbeing of young men in the community while also potentially decreasing suicide risk, and

(2) Improving ways the media addresses mental health issues

The Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences in collaboration with the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and the Stanford Medicine Child Health Research Institute invited applications for special projects focused on suicide prevention among youth in our community. We sought innovative and collaborative projects for each category that are responsive to the CDC report and the need to provide resources and support for our local and regional community.

In October of 2017, the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences in collaboration with Stanford Children’s Health and the Stanford Medicine Child Health Research Institute at Stanford have awarded four faculty seed grants totaling $95,000 for special projects focused on suicide prevention among youth in our community.

Recipients of 2017 Suicide Prevention through Outreach (SPOt) Grant Opportunity

Building Bridges to Adolescent Wellness By Promoting Healthy Media Portrayals

Members of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing will plan and host a conference of thought-leaders focused on how suicide and adolescent mental health is depicted across a broad range of media, from narrative-fiction and journalism to self-representation and social media. This one-day regional conference on media and suicide aims to educate and empower journalists, educators, parents, youth and the broader community to engage in responsible reporting and media portrayal of suicide in order to promote positive mental health and minimize contagion. This project is led by Shashank V. Joshi, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist who serves as faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Joshi is collaborating with faculty and staff leaders at Stanford Medicine and with community partners, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Project Safety Net, the HEARD Alliance, the County of Santa Clara, and the Palo Alto Weekly.

Smartphone Data Identification of Suicidality in Young Men with Bipolar Disorder

By using information gathered from participant’s smartphones, researchers will focus on sleep-habits and social interaction patterns among young adult males with a history of suicidality and depression. The project seeks to develop a method for using passive data collection obtained via patients’ smartphones, alongside minimal active data collection, to identify the occurrence of proximal risk factors for suicidality among young men with bipolar disorder. This project is co-led by Anda Gershon, PhD, and Shefali Miller, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, along with Katarzyna Wac, PhD, who is a visiting professor at Stanford Medicine and serves as an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

Understanding Silicon Valley Transitional-Aged Male Youth (USV-TAMY)

Researchers will conduct focus groups and administer surveys of young men, aged 16-26, with a goal of better understanding their stresses, challenges, and behavioral health concerns. This project is led by Aparna Atluru, MD and Shelly Tran, MD, trainees in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship program of Stanford Medicine, with their mentor, Anita Kishore, MD, who is a Clinical Associate Professor, in the Department. This project represents a collaboration of Stanford Medicine with Tom Tarshis, MD, MPH, of the Bay Area Children’s Foundation and a local student, Leo Rossi, who attends Neuva School in Hillsborough.

Sleep Disturbances as a Proposed Biomarker and Emergency Department Target

Partnering with the Department of Emergency Medicine, researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences will attempt to identify low-stigma early indicators linked to increased suicidality in a high-risk population. The study will include a comprehensive screening to enhance access to care in the prevention of youth suicide, followed by a machine learning investigation of evidence-based warning signs of suicidal behaviors among transition aged males. In doing so the researchers hope to increase access to care among those who need it most. This project is led by Rebecca A. Bernert, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the investigative team includes Alan F. Schatzberg, MD, and Victoria Cosgrove, PhD, also from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Nancy E. Wang, MD, of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

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