$3.4 million research study focuses on suicide prevention

$3.4 million research study focuses on suicide prevention
Posted at 3:41 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 19:10:41-04

BOISE — Suicide rates continue to climb in Idaho, and St. Luke’s Health System will begin researching what can be done in and out of the hospital to best prevent death by suicide.

The research study, known as the SPARC Trial, will compare two methods of preventative care head-on for people who express thoughts or feelings of suicide, called safety planning. These methods are already in effect at St. Luke's.

“It's a 6 step process that involves writing down things like the feelings and thoughts you may have if you’re feeling suicidal, the kinds of people you could reach out to if you needed help," said St. Luke’s Applied Research Scientist Dr. Anna Radin.

One part of the study focuses solely on developing that safety plan for each person; the other version being studied includes follow-up with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline.

"That follow-up would include a phone call from the hotline to check in with a patient after they leave St. Lukes as well as a series of 25 caring text messages sent to a patient over the course of a year," said Radin.

These methods are already in effect across healthcare systems. The research will help determine which is most effective, depending on factors like age or gender. There are nearly 1500 people participating in the trial, with a third being youth participants.

“Would an intervention like that work better in adolescent populations that are you used to this kind of constant stream of messaging via text messages and so forth, would that be equally beneficial for adult patients, those are questions we don’t fully know the answers to," said Dr. Sam Pullen, System Medical Director for Behavioral Health.

The study spans across eight local emergency departments and 21 primary care offices.