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ARRA Investments in Suicide


Public Health Burden
Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2006, it was the eleventh leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for approximately 33,300 deaths, with an overall rate of 10.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. For every suicide death, it is estimated that 12 to 25 unsuccessful suicides are attempted. Almost four times as many males as females die by suicide.

Understanding Risk Factors in Order to Develop Preemptive Interventions
Suicide is a complex phenomenon such that a combination of individual, community, relational, and societal factors may increase a person’s risk of suicide. Risk factors for suicide include depression, other mental disorders, substance abuse disorder, and family history of suicide. ARRA funding is enabling scientists to explore several strategies to generate information on risk and protective factors of suicidal behavior and other mental disorders.
  • An interdisciplinary team will carry out the largest study of suicide and mental health risks among military personnel ever undertaken.  Promising scientific approaches will be used to address the rising suicide rate of military personnel through rapid identification of modifiable risk and protective factors and moderators of suicidal behaviors. The investigators will examine neurobiological and psychosocial predictors of suicide, suicide risk, suicide-related behaviors, and suicide deaths in the U.S. military, to better understand, prevent, and treat mental health problems and suicide among soldiers.1
  • One study will analyze brain imaging patterns of adolescents with bipolar disorder to identify biomarkers for suicide; study biological and environmental factors associated with suicide risk; and develop prevention strategies.2
  • Another ARRA grant focuses on suicide risk assessment among patients during hospital and emergency admissions by supporting the validation of suicide risk algorithms and linking existing health-related datasets.3
  • One longitudinal study of high-risk adolescents will examine behavioral and biological markers of suicidal behavior and drug abuse to inform future development of treatment and prevention programs for youth with suicidal and drug use behaviors.4
  • Few broad- scale suicide prevention programs targeting college students have been tested. Investigators are studying methods for suicide prevention among freshman entering college. The aim is to test the impact of a suicide prevention intervention among college students shown to reduce the common psychological problems predictive of suicidal behavior.5



  1. 3U01MH087981-01S1- Modifiable Risk and Protective Factors for Suicidal Behaviors in the US Army -- Ursano, Robert J. (MD)
  2. 1RC1MH088366-01 -- Biomarkers of Suicide Risk in Adolescents and Young Adults: Factors that Contribute to High Risk in Bipolar Disorder- Blumberg, Hilary P (CT)
  3. 3U01MH078708-04S1 -- Antidepressant Use and Suicidality: Comparative Safety in Children and Adults- Schneeweiss, Sebastian G. (MA)
  4. 3R01MH077684-03S2 -- Impulsivity and Biological Markers for Suicidality and Drug Use in Adolescents- Dougherty, Donald M. (TX)
  5. 3R01MH083740-02S1 -- Prevention of Suicidality in College Students: A common Core Process Approach- Hayes, Steven C. (NV)


 
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