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A psychophysiological approach to the refinement of suicide risk management intervention

Suicide rates are rising dramatically in the U.S. Timely interventions are necessary so that high risk individuals get help to identify their personal warning signs and adopt coping strategies to manage emotional dysregulation that heightens suicidal tendencies. Crisis response planning (CRP) intervention teaches a range of coping strategies and provides support that can reduce suicide attempts and ideation. CRP is used in both psychiatric and non-psychiatric health care settings, and has been shown to significantly reduce suicide attempts by 76%. Little is known about objective measures of emotional dysregulation that are believed to explain improvement in suicidal behaviors after CRP therapy. The current project will be the first to examine the impact of CRP intervention on suicide risk and emotional dysregulation by adopting biobehavioral measures of emotional vulnerability. Improvements from pre-to-post intervention will be measured by adopting standardized psychophysiological (e.g., heart rate variability) and ecological momentary sampling (e.g., suicide attempts and ideation) methods that will provide reliable measures of changes and delineate the underlying mechanisms of change that mitigate suicidal vulnerabilities. This project will inform the refinement of an effective suicide risk management intervention and thus achieve the U’s goals to gain new knowledge that provides transformative and innovative health care.

Current Status

Abstract | Suicide Ideation: Psychological Determinants and Treatments
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States and approximately 10 million Americans struggle with suicide ideation. In the absence of an intervention, one-third of individuals with suicide ideation may attempt suicide within a year of experiencing suicide ideation. Elevated stressful experiences can heighten suicide ideation. In addition, emotion dysregulation may further contribute to the emergence of suicide ideation in high-stress contexts. The current study investigated how emotion dysregulation may explain the relationship between stressful experiences and suicide ideation. We predicted that emotion dysregulation would mediate the positive association between three stress-related risk factors —stress exposure, perceived stress, and negative affect. A sample of 3929 participants reported their levels of suicide ideation, emotional dysregulation, stress exposure, perceived stress, and negative affect. Emotion dysregulation significantly mediated the positive relationships between suicide ideation and stress exposure, perceived stress, and negative affect. The current findings highlight the importance of targeting emotion regulation skills in suicide prevention treatments. Our ongoing work explores the refinement of suicide risk management interventions to teach effective emotion regulation to reduce suicide ideation and attempts. Timely intervention may help identify personal warning signs and adopt coping strategies to manage emotional dysregulation.


Monika Lohani
College of Education
Educational Psychology
Project Owner

Justin Baker
College of Social and Behavioral Science

Scott Langenecker
School of Medicine

Project Info

Funded Project Amount

suicide prevention, emotional dysregulation, psychophysiology, ecological momentary sampling, evidence-based intervention

Project Status
Funded 2020

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Last Updated: 12/7/22