Enhancing Clergy Suicide Prevention and Referral

Period of Performance: 09/30/2009 - 09/29/2011


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Academic Edge, Inc.
Bloomington, IN 47408
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in persons aged 25-34, the 3rd leading cause of death among people in the age groups 10-14 and 15-24, and the 8th leading cause of male deaths. Faith leaders and clergy have been identified in national strategic public health documents as important front-line gatekeepers for suicide prevention. Preliminary research by the Indiana Partnership to Prevent Violent Injury and Death (IPPVID) has identified strong interest among clergy in training materials regarding suicide prevention. However, to date, no evidence-based training materials are available to facilitate adoption of suicide-related risk reduction and mitigation behaviors among faith leaders. The goal of this project is to fill this need by developing and validating evidence-based and theory-driven training materials to increase suicide awareness and suicide prevention skills among faith leaders. Across both phases, a multipronged approach will be used to generate the content of the faith leaders'suicide prevention curriculum: the effort will (1) capitalize on a pilot curriculum developed by our research partner (IPPVID), (2) draw upon emerging suicide prevention training programs for mental health professionals and general audiences that can be tailored to the specific practical and sociocultural needs of faith leaders, and (3) involve stakeholders and subject-matter experts in the articulation and validation of the curriculum outlines, lessons, and learning activities. Design and development of educational lessons and activities will be guided by a constructivist pedagogical theory, an integrated performance support model, and a well- established instructional design process. Phase I will deliver an overall curriculum design document by conducting structured audience analysis regarding faith leaders'needs, barriers, and common situations as well as content analysis of existing suicide training curricula. Interviews (n=20) with clergy will elicit factors affecting engagement in the target behaviors and will gather reactions to existing curricula;a survey (n=200) of identified beliefs will be conducted, and the results of the survey will drive motivational and other elements of the media. Content from IPPVID pilot trials will be further refined through the multipronged approach described above. Phase I will then develop prototype web-based interactive lessons and activities focusing primarily on awareness and risk identification. The resulting lessons and activities will be evaluated in a small scale RCT (n=60). PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Suicide prevention is a vital public health concern. A large number of individuals use religious leaders as their first and often primary source of mental health support. Faith leaders have been identified as important points of leverage for addressing suicide through their ability to directly and immediately engage in identification, brief diffusion, and referral of individuals at risk. Yet faith leaders are often not adequately prepared for this role. There currently exist no evidence-based suicide prevention educational programs tailored for faith leaders'particular practical, organizational, and cultural workplace needs. This project will develop a suicide prevention professional development curriculum customized to the unique needs of faith leaders. The curriculum will draw upon existing evidence-based suicide training efforts and state-of-the-art pedagogical theory and technology. It will be deliverable as individualized instruction over the web as well as through facilitator led training. The proposed effort meets an important, recognized, need with an innovative, easily dessiminable, and customizable educational solution. As such, the resulting products should be well-received by faith leaders and their organizations as well as institutions which provide pre-professional and continuing education to them.