Examination of Suicide Around the Globe

Article from the Winter 2015 Edition of Global Mental Health Newsletter, written by Bruce Bongar, Ph.D. and Lori Holleran, 3rd year Ph.D. Student 

Currently the Clinical Crises and Emergencies Research (CCER) laboratory, led by Dr. Bruce Bongar, along with the Multicultural Suicide Research Center (MSRC), directed by Dr. Joyce Chu, are initiating numerous international projects in collaboration with Drs. Larry Beutler, Satoko Kimpara, and Nancy Haug.

These comprehensive endeavors encompassing clinical and translational research will examine lethal means access and risk for suicide, including the consideration of culturally specific risk factors and levels of psychological pain.

?Members of the MSRC collaborating on upcoming grant proposals, L to R: Professors Joyce Chu, Bruce Bongar, and Peter Goldblum,

The CCER is preparing for an upcoming project working with Drs. Ariel Merari and Lisa Brown, along with NATO, considering psychological and social components of suicide terrorism. This project will involve the completion of a NATO grant proposal, and an advanced research workshop for NATO. This project will specifically examine characterological and motivational factors associated with suicide terrorists across cultural domains informing cross-cultural understanding of suicide terrorism. Further, measures will be examined to identify effective strategies to gather and assess relevant aspects of behavior related to acts of suicide terrorism.

Further, the CCER Lab will be collaborating with distinguished faculty and suicidologists from around the globe to address the alarming suicide rates being observed in many countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 800,000 people die through suicide completion every year. In 2012, suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, representing the 15th leading cause of death in 2012. This collaborative project will inform CCER’s consultative model for the assessment and management of clinical scenarios involving dangerousness, imminence, and the restriction of access to lethal means. Further, this project will apprise the field regarding evidence-based approaches to preventing suicide completion by vul- nerable populations, including diverse cultural groups, providing a more precise standard of care for individuals at risk for suicide.

This project will involve community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods, including qualitative and epidemiological research, concepts that were established as essential to the examination of suicide and self-harm research by Keith Hawton and the University of Oxford’s Centre for Suicide Research. Additionally, it will integrate a modified version of lethal means counseling, developed by Harvard School of Public Health, an intervention focused on working with individuals’ support system to restrict access to lethal means (e.g., firearms in the US, and pesticides and hangings in international settings).

In order to expand understanding of evidence-based prevention efforts for vulnerable populations, cultural relevant tools allowing for the comprehensive assessment of risk for suicide, such as the CARS, STS, and MAYDAY, will be integral to this project. These measures demonstrate potential to be highly relevant and effective in assessing symptoms and risk factors across diverse culture groups emphasizing their prospective utility in international settings. These measures will be utilized in the upcoming international research projects with formal partners in Australia and New Zealand, along with potential sites in Korea and Japan, providing an opportunity to demonstrate their extensive efficacy.

Photo Caption (above)

  • ?Members of the MSRC collaborating on upcoming grant proposals, L to R: Professors Joyce Chu, Bruce Bongar, and Peter Goldblum, with Students Lori Holleran and Gabrielle Poon
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