UW Today

This is an archived article.

October 28, 2010

Volunteers needed for study on suicide intervention strategies

Researchers at the Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics at the UW seek King County men and women to participate in a study on suicide intervention.

The researchers are looking for volunteers who have suicidal thoughts, who are distressed by their suicidal thoughts or who are actively trying not to act on suicidal thoughts. Participants must be at least 18 years old and able to come to the UW’s Seattle campus for a two- or three-hour meeting with the researchers.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, with about 33,000 people committing suicide each year. Many more individuals have suicidal thoughts.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have suicidal thoughts or urges during their lifetime,” said Erin Ward-Ciesielski, a UW psychology graduate student. In fact, recent studies have found that as many as 19 percent of people in the United States report having thought about suicide at some point in their lives, she said.

Ward-Ciesielski hopes to develop brief strategies to reduce the risk of suicide in individuals who do not seek or participate in longer, ongoing mental health treatment.

The study involves discussing past and current suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors as well as answering questions about mental health treatment history and strategies individuals use to control suicidal urges. Volunteers will not be asked to commit to treatment, but information regarding resources will be available.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in a 30-45 minute skills training exercise to develop new ways to cope with emotions. The exercise is derived from dialectical behavior therapy, an evidence-based treatment for suicidal individuals developed by Marsha Linehan, UW psychology professor and director of the Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics. Linehan is Ward-Ciesielski’s doctoral adviser and supervises the research project.

Interested individuals should contact Ward-Ciesielski at 206-543-2505 or erinw6@uw.edu. More information on the research is available online here.