Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, and one person loses his or her life to suicide every 12 minutes. Idaho has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Half of people who die of suicide visit their healthcare provider within a month of their death, yet there is a lot we still do not understand about the best way for providers to help prevent suicide.
This research will compare two evidence-based approaches to prevent suicide: (1) safety planning plus follow-up support from a suicide prevention hotline, versus (2) safety planning alone. Safety planning involves patients who have considered suicide working with their providers to develop an action plan that they can use if they have thoughts of taking their life in the future. The follow-up intervention will include a phone call from a suicide prevention hotline specialist and a series of supportive text messages sent to the patient every week or two for about a year. Our goal is to determine which approach works best to reduce the risk of suicide, improve the patient’s quality of life, and ensure they are getting appropriate mental health treatment. We also want to see if the effect of these interventions is different for adolescents compared to adults.
Our research team includes researchers, doctors, and other healthcare providers at St. Luke’s Health System in Idaho; researchers at the University of Washington, the University of Idaho, and the University of Pennsylvania; community partners at the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, Empower Idaho, and the Idaho Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health; and people with lived experience with suicide. People who have attempted suicide and survived or are close to someone who lost their life to suicide will be key partners in this research. Every few months, we will meet with this group of people to be sure that their perspective is reflected in the research study. We will ask for their input on things like the study enrollment process and how best to keep research participants engaged in the study for a whole year. We are also working closely with a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare providers to ensure that the study we design works for them. Suicide is preventable. Our goal with this research is to determine the best way for health systems to help their patients who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts to live happier, healthier lives.
The full working title of this project is The SPARC Trial: Comparing Safety Planning Plus Structured Follow-Up from a Suicide Prevention Hotline (SP+SFU) to Usual Care (Safety Planning without Follow-Up) for Suicide Prevention among Adult and Adolescent Recipients of Care in Emergency Departments and Primary Care Clinics.
*All proposed projects, including requested budgets and project periods, are approved subject to a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and the negotiation of a formal award contract.