BOISE — St. Luke’s health system is engaging in a $3.4 million research study to determine what methods help best prevent death by suicide for both adults and children.
The new study will compare two methods of preventative care— called safety planning.
“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 version of the safety planning being studied involves follow up calls and text messages from the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline.
“It’s my strong opinion that follow-up contacts really are helpful and therapeutically effective, but we'll have to wait and see until the research data comes out in about three years," said hotline director John Reusser.
The hotline has been doing follow up calls since its launch in 2012 and has since added follow up calls to discharged patients from emergency departments and community crisis centers. However, this study allows them to provide a smoother care transition for people, so it’s not up to the patient to reach out.
"People that are enrolled in these discharge follow up programs tend to do better at getting that important care when they discharge," said Reusser.
The study also comes with a grant for the hotline so that they can hire more staff solely dedicated to the follow-ups.
"For those folks receiving the ordinary follow-ups that we do, they don’t necessarily know who’s going to be calling them, but for this study, there’s going to be dedicated staff delivering those follow up contacts, so there will be some sense of continuity in terms of who’s going to be making contact with that discharge patient, so I think that will be helpful," said Reusser.
Nearly 1,500 people will be participating in the study, and enrollment begins spring 2020. If you or anyone you know may be struggling, you can reach the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.