Suicide claims more than 40,000 lives each year and is a leading cause of injury death among middle-aged men in Michigan, where the research will take place. A new study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will evaluate a new online screening and prevention tool aimed at changing that statistic.
The $1.28 million, four-year grant from the CDC supports a group of interdisciplinary researchers across the United States. The researchers will examine an online screening tool and an online therapeutic program targeting men ages 35-64, who are at higher risk for suicide.
“The unusually high risk of suicide among middle-aged men, coupled with their limited use of mental health resources, calls for unique approaches specifically tailored to the needs of this hard-to-reach population. The programs to be evaluated in this research directly target middle-aged men in places where they are most comfortable – at home, at work, and online”, says Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD, MSW, principal investigator at the University of Maryland that serves as the lead institution for the study.
Philip Osteen, PhD, MSW, an Associate Professor and Director of the Social Research Institute in the University of Utah College of Social Work is the lead evaluator for the project.
“We are using the most rigorous scientific methods to support our ability to make inferences about the impact of these interventions on suicide-related behaviors and depression. Suicide and depression do not happen in a vacuum; there are many complex interacting factors. Our study will also address men’s attitudes about professional mental health services, help-seeking behaviors such as using online services and referrals, risk factors for suicide, and perceived level of social support”, says Dr. Osteen.
“These innovative and cost-effective programs have the potential to be scaled up for nationwide use, to significantly reduce suicide attempts and deaths across the country,” says Dr. Frey.