Simple Intervention Proves Effective in Reducing Suicide among Active-Duty Soldiers

February 17, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


A recent study found that crisis response planning was more effective at reducing suicide attempts among high-risk active duty soldiers than contracts for safety. Researchers recruited 97 U.S. Army personnel who had current suicidal ideation and/or a lifetime history of suicide attempt and compared the outcomes of two risk management strategies: 1) contract for safety, which consisted of a verbal commitment from the participant not to self-harm, and 2) crisis response planning, which involved identifying warning signs, coping skills, and sources of support in case of emotional crisis. At six-month follow-up, there was a 75 percent reduction in suicide attempts among those who received the crisis response planning intervention. According to lead author Craig J. Bryan, associate professor of psychology and director of the University of Utah’s National Center for Veterans Studies, “Our results mark a critical next step in preventing military suicides.” Bryan also emphasized the feasibility of delivering the intervention in a variety of settings. “Suicidal individuals don’t always visit mental health clinics when in crisis,” he said. “They also visit emergency departments and primary care clinics or talk to friends and family members. Crisis response planning could be a practical and effective way to connect those in greatest need of potentially life-saving treatment.”

Spark Extra! Read the study abstract.