Research Activities

Over the past 20 years SAVE has been involved in numerous research activities that have had a positive impact on the field of suicide prevention. Learn more about SAVE's research projects past and present.

Prioritized Research Agenda

The Prioritized Research Agenda for Suicide Prevention is part of a concerted effort by the The Research Prioritization Task Force. This task force is made up of representatives of the National Council for Suicide Prevention (SAVE is the managing branch), the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Action Alliance. The overall purpose of the document is to guide research toward efforts most likely to reduce suicide. The Prioritized Research Agenda does this by outlining several key areas for research. Funders of suicide prevention research are encouraged to use the Research Agenda to appropriately allocate limited funds.

The Task Force identified six Key Questions that reflect the breadth of the science optimally needed to reduce suicide burden. These questions mirror the range of public health and medical approaches to public health problems:

  • Key Question 1: Why do people become suicidal?Screenshot 2016-08-03 at 00.00.48
  • Key Question 2: How can we better or more optimally detect/predict risk?
  • Key Question 3: What interventions prevent individuals from engaging in suicidal behavior?
  • Key Question 4: What services are most effective for treating the suicidal person and preventing suicidal behavior?
  • Key Question 5: What other types of interventions (outside health care settings) reduce suicide risk?
  • Key Question 6: What new and existing research infrastructure is needed to reduce suicidal behavior?

The Agenda includes three short-term and three long-term research objectives for each of the six Key Questions. These Key Questions are not prioritized in any particular order; however, the research objectives identified under each Key Question are prioritized based on what is believed to have the biggest impact in both the short-term and long-term. The text of the Agenda also includes the processes used by the Task Force to develop the research pathways and objectives.

Research Studies

» Billboard Study

In 2009, SAVE in collaboration with Bonnie Klimes Dougan at the University of Minnesota, conducted a study to examine the benefits and possible untoward effects of public service announcements (PSAs) for young adults. Largely replicating a study previously conducted with adolescents, the results provided some evidence of the benefit of the simulated TV ad (e. g., increased knowledge, perceived as useful), but it also provided some evidence of untoward effects for the billboard (e. g., viewers were less likely to endorse help-seeking strategies, normative beliefs were altered for high-risk participants). This raises the concern of disseminating messages prior to releasing suicide prevention messaging into the public domain.

Crisis. 2010;31(5):247-54. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000032. Suicide prevention public service announcements: perceptions of young adults. Klimes-Dougan B1, Lee CY.

» Public Service Announcement (PSA) Studies

Public Service Announcements are commonly used as a measure to prevent suicide and promote help-seeking; however, it is not well known how effective these messages are at influencing positive behavior. The following studies expanded upon the previous billboard research. SAVE helped in the study design and implementation, assisted in the recruitment of the schools and subject, provided the PSA content for the study, and assisted in the analysis and discussion. The second study replicated the first, but with young adults vs. adolescents. SAVE provided PSA content and helped with the analysis and discussion. SAVE only provided PSA content for the third study.

Study 1 | Study 2 | Study 3 | Study 4

Advisory and Editorial Boards 

SAVE’s Executive Director serves on Editorial Boards and assists in Grant Proposal selection.

Editorial Boards 

  • The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
  • The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
  • International Journal of Emergency Service
  • The American College of Forensic Examiners
  • The Annals of Psychotherapy and Integrative Medicine
  • Esperanza magazine

Grant Proposal Reviews

  • National Lifeline
  • Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development