Project Summary

Background: Over 47,000 Americans die by suicide each year and 1.4 million people attempt suicide. The suicide rate has increased in recent decades, yet few evidence-based treatments to decrease suicide rates have been disseminated. Healthcare research has not engaged people with lived experience of suicide—those who have lived with suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, or lost someone to suicide. There is a gap in determining how to meaningfully engage people with lived experience in the process.

Proposed Solution to the Problem: This project aims to create a resource to provide a voice to people with lived experience of suicide as partners in creating better suicide research, especially CER.

Objectives: This convening aims to solidify and expand connections between suicide researchers at University of Kentucky, AAS, and people with lived experience of suicide to create resources for true partnership and improved research engagement. The goal of this participatory dialogue is to meaningfully integrate lived experience into the design, dissemination, and implementation of suicide research. The project team aims to make researchers better allies, interested in understanding the perspectives of those with lived experience, and compelled to include those with lived experience in the research process, empowering them to play an active role as equal partners in future endeavors.

Activities: This will be accomplished through a user survey of at least 200 and an in-person convening of at least 20 people.

Outcomes and Outputs (projected): The final product will be a resource that includes current barriers and questions that must be addressed for future comparative effectiveness research that meaningfully includes lived experience of suicide. It will include effective, proactive strategies the research community can use to partner with lived experience communities, as well as strategies lived experience communities can use to engage researchers in helping center and amplify voices of lived experience. It will also create an evidence base for these strategies, and programs. This resource will be adopted and bolstered by AAS, the oldest and largest membership group representing the full range of suicide prevention stakeholders. AAS will disseminate the resource via the web, public online forums used by the research community, and the AAS annual conference.

Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: Engaging participants with a broad range of lived experience in both the survey and the convening is critical to the success of this project. Utilizing the influence of AAS will give this project the opportunity to meaningfully engage researchers at the top of their field, as well as emerging scholars, with the long-term goal of creating sustainable change in the field. It will deliberately include and center marginalized voices, including indigenous people, black/African Americans, people from the LGBTQ+ community, and young adults.

Project Collaborators: This project is led by the University of Kentucky College of Social Work’s Suicide Prevention and Exposure Lab directed by Julie Cerel, PhD. It is a collaborative effort with the American Association of Suicidology and leading voices among suicide attempt survivors including Jess Stohlmann-Rainey and Dese’Rae Stage.

Project Information

Julie Cerel, PhD
University of Kentucky Research Foundation

Key Dates

12 months


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: November 10, 2022