The Fight Against Suicide
Researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command are working to increase soldier resiliency and reduce suicides.
USAMRMC's Military Operational Medical Research Program manages the Military Suicide Research Consortium, an ongoing suicide prevention effort established and synchronized by the DoD, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Florida State University in 2010. This consortium continues to push the limits through cutting-edge research aimed at enhancing the military's ability to quickly identify the risks associated with suicidal behavior in the military.
"Suicide is a multiply-determined problem," explained Dr. Peter M. Gutierrez, a leading suicide expert and clinical/research psychologist with the Veterans Integrated Service Network 19 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Denver VA Medical Center, "and despite decades of research, [it] is in some ways still poorly understood."
Suicides are not an issue that is unique to the military. More people die from suicide than from car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the latest reported CDC statistics, suicide is a leading cause of violent death in the United States, ranked 10th among persons 10 years and older, and accounting for 36,981 deaths.
To fight this issue in the military, MOMRP program is managing an extensive portfolio of research initiatives aimed at developing effective countermeasures against stressors with the overall objective of maximizing the health, performance and well-being of soldiers throughout the deployment cycle. Including the work of the consortium, current research focuses on suicide screening, assessment, and clinical interventions for at-risk service members and veterans. The ten most recent studies happening within the MSRC include:
- "Development and Evaluation of a Brief, Suicide Prevention Intervention Targeting Anxiety and Mood Vulnerabilities" ' N. Brad Schmidt, Ph.D.
- "Warning Signs for Suicide Attempts" ' Courtney Bagge, Ph.D. & Ken Conner, PsyD, MPH
- "Identifying Factors Associated with Future Suicidal Self-Directed Violence within a Sample of Mississippi National Guard Personnel" ' Michael Anestis, Ph.D.
- "Neuroimaging Correlates of Suicide Risk" ' Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, Ph.D. & Perry Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D.
- "Controlled Evaluation of a Computerized Anger-Reduction Treatment for Suicide Prevention" ' Jesse Cougle, Ph.D.
- "A Novel Approach to Identifying Behavioral and Neural Markers of Active Suicidal Ideation: Effects of Cognitive and Emotional Stress on Working Memory in OEF/OIF/OND Veterans" ' Beeta Homaifar, Ph.D. & Melissa Amick, Ph.D.
- "New Approaches to the Measurement and Modification of Suicide-Related Cognition" ' Matthew Nock, Ph.D.
- "A Taxometric Investigation of Suicide" ' Jill Holm-Denoma, Ph.D. & Tracy Witte, Ph.D.
- "Home-Based Mental Health Evaluation (HOME) to Assist Suicidal Veterans with the Transition from Inpatient to Outpatient Settings: A Multi-Site Interventional Trial" ' Bridget Matarazzo, Ph.D.
- "Effectiveness of a Virtual Hope Box Smartphone App in Enhancing Veteran's Coping with Suicidal Ideation: A Randomized Clinical Trial" ' Nigel Bush, Ph.D.
"The research being conducted by the MSRC is part of a larger strategy to address this [suicide] challenge, develop and test suicide-specific interventions, and provide a strong evidence base for screening, assessment, and prevention," explained Gutierrez.
The MSRC's infrastructure is designed to specifically support an Independent Scientific Peer Review Program and Military External Advisory Board, expediting the review of proposals being submitted to the MSRC. External advisory boards, such as the MEAB, support the MSRC to identify gaps in current literature on military suicide.
The ISPRP provides the MSRC reviews within 30 days of receipt and scheduled meetings with the MEAB, allowing MSRC projects to be approved quicker compared to other funding options.
According to Project Coordinator Kelly Soberay, "The MSRC has worked very hard to rapidly move funding to the researchers conducting cutting-edge work."
For additional information on the MSRC, visit: https://msrc.fsu.edu.