Suicide remains a leading cause of death across the lifespan in the United States, and Idaho consistently ranks among states with the highest suicide rates. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has called for research to identify effective interventions that, if delivered on a large scale, could reduce national suicide deaths by 20 percent by 2025.
Anna Radin, DrPH, MPH, Applied Research Scientist in the Applied Research Division for St. Luke’s Health System, through St. Luke’s Health Foundation, received a $1.5 million research grant from AFSP to support a randomized controlled trial comparing two versions of a suicide prevention text message intervention, Caring Contacts, to enhanced usual care.
The Suicide Prevention Interventions to Guide Follow-up Care (SPRING) Trial is a three-year project that will begin this fall in partnership with the Idaho Crisis and Suicide Hotline and the University of Washington. The study will provide high quality evidence to determine the best way to support patients at home to prevent suicide. “We are honored to be leading another large suicide prevention research study, especially as we have seen mental health needs escalating in both quantity and complexity in the communities we serve,” says St. Luke’s Chief Physician Executive, Dr. Jim Souza. “This research may inform follow-up care approaches here in Idaho and across the nation. Rarely is something as simple as sending a text message so powerful that it can be life-saving.”
The SPRING trial builds on two previous suicide prevention and mental health studies led by Dr. Radin and the Applied Research Division at St. Luke’s. These studies have demonstrated that partnering with a state crisis hotline to deliver Caring Contacts to a large volume of people is feasible in a real-world setting and initial results are consistent with other research showing that these texts can significantly reduce suicide risk.
Every state has a 988 crisis and suicide hotline. The national 988 legislation includes a mandate to provide follow-up contact to people in suicidal crisis. “There is tremendous promise in scaling up Caring Contacts in partnership with our 988 teams,” says Radin, who is Principal Investigator for the SPRING Trial, “We truly believe that delivering the best version of Caring Contacts in partnership with 988 may be a way to substantially reduce the number of suicide deaths in the US. We hear from our patients all the time about how meaningful these texts are.” One research participant shared, “Thank you for everything. Seriously. You saved my life...You made me laugh when I didn't know what happy was…you talked me through some of the hardest things I have ever experienced and I can't ever repay you except to say thank you. … Thank you a million times.”
Joy Prudek is the manager of public relations for St. Luke's Wood River.