Suicide Prevention through Outreach (SPOt)
The Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences in collaboration with the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and the Stanford Child Health Research Institute has funded a series of special projects focused on suicide prevention.
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). The report 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. Given the embeddedness of media in modern life, the need for empirically-informed best practices for social media companies and users to reduce suicide and improve mental health and resilience are imperative.
In June 2018, the CDC released a report outlining the aggregate increase in U.S. state-level suicide rates by almost 30% since 1999 (http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6722a1). While research has shown that substance use, access to a firearm, and financial stability among other factors contribute to suicide, less is known about protective factors. Suicide prevention efforts will benefit not only from recognizing and acting on signs of distress, but also on investing in and promoting psychosocial factors that buffer individuals from thoughts and behaviors of serious self-harm.
In the 2018 call for proposals, we prioritized funding for projects that address one of the following topics:
- (a) The role of media and social media in mental health and suicide prevention;
- (b) Approaches to fostering resilience and/or strengthening protective factors that lessen suicide risk
- (c) Documentation of a rigorous and thorough systematic review of evidence on the impact of suicide and parasuicidal behavior among adolescents and young adults in the Bay Area and recommendations for future scientific and community-based efforts to address these phenomena in our region (creation of an evidence-based “white paper”).
Recipients of the Suicide Prevention through Outreach (SPOt) Grants
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 seven faculty seed grants since 2017 for special projects focused on suicide prevention among youth in our community.
A 3-Pronged Approach to Addressing Suicide in Muslim Faith Communities
Partnering with the Khalil Center, a community partner of the Stanford Muslim Mental Health (SMMH) Lab and Wellness program, this study has three main goals: (a) create best practice guidelines for suicide prevention tailored to the Muslim community, (b) create an interdisciplinary best practices manual for suicide postvention in the Muslim community, (c) publish evidence based paper on the topic of suicide from a comparative Islamic and scientific viewpoint. Researchers will conduct lit review, interview suicide prevention/postvention experts, faith leaders/chaplains, Islamic law and suicidology experts before preparing their academic article. They will also create two webinars on suicide in the Muslim community for their “Meet the Expert” webinar series. Overall, goal of the study is to reduce gaps of knowledge while properly designing best practice guidelines for suicide pre-and postvention and work towards decriminalization of suicide in Muslim communities. This study is led by Rania Awaad, MD, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and the Director of the Muslim Mental Health and Wellness Program and Co-Director of the Diversity Clinic. The investigative team includes Sara Maklad, MBBCH, a research assistant in the Muslim Mental Health Lab and Wellness Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and Sayeed Hasan, MD Candidate, research intern in the Muslim Mental Health Lab and Wellness Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.
An Exploratory Study of the Youth Purpose Interview with Suicidal Adolescents
Researchers will conduct interview with adolescents with a history of suicidal thoughts and /or behaviors with a goal to measure the feasibility and safety of administering the Youth Purpose Interview and to compare their responses to those found in prior studies in healthy adolescents. The study focuses on a potential protective factor for reducing suicidal behavior in adolescents and the development of purpose in life. This study is headed by Michele Berk, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford. The investigative team includes Heather Malin, Ph.D., a senior research scholar and the director of research for the Stanford Center on Adolescence and Stephanie Clarke, Ph.D., a Clinical Instructor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford.
Stanford Department of Psychiatry’s Media & Mental Health Initiative (MMHI (Me))
The study’s goal is to understand and improve the impact of media on suicide prevention and mental health through partnerships, outreach and projects aimed to enhance the prosocial, safe use of media in multiple forms such as news, social and entertainment. This study is led by Steve Adelsheim, MD, a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The investigative team includes Shashank Joshi, MD, Associate Professor of in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Child Development), Elias Aboujaoude, MD, MA, Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Vicki Harrison, MSW, Manager, Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing.
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.
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.
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.