Research Prioritization Task Force
The Research Prioritization Task Force meeting following the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Executive Committee (EXCOM) February meeting at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. Members and staff pictured include, clockwise from upper left: Ira Katz, Kathy O’Leary, Gemma Weiblinger, Jane Pearson, Mary Durham, Robert Mays, Sherry Molock, Beverly Pringle, Dan Reidenberg, Chelsea Booth, Cynthia Claassen, Lanny Berman, Philip Satow.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Research PrioritizationTask Force (RTF) was initiated in November 2010. The RTF is comprised of 11 organizations, representing the public and private sectors in research, advocacy, and practice.
Overall, U.S. rates of suicide deaths have not decreased appreciably in 50 years. Each year, over 678,000 individuals report that they have received medical attention for a suicide attempt; and each year, more than 30,000 individuals die by suicide. This Task Force will develop an agenda for research that has the potential to reduce morbidity (attempts) and mortality (deaths) each, by at least 20% in 5 years, and 40% or greater in 10 years, if implemented successfully.
Thomas Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Co-Lead of the RTF, has stated, “The Research Task Force will develop a dynamic, ongoing process that capitalizes on the latest discoveries, identifies the most significant gaps in current knowledge of suicide prevention, and prioritizes the nation’s research efforts. We will develop a process to prioritize topics in suicide prevention research; and with my Co-Lead, Philip Satow of the National Council for Suicide Prevention and The Jed Foundation, the Task Force will look for ways to integrate science and service which is essential if we are to bend the curve of suicide rates and ensure that suicide deaths decrease dramatically in the next decade.”
To develop a successful research agenda, the RTF is engaged in several activities aimed at prioritizing research. The RTF has embraced core values and operating principles as they engage in the following activities: conducting a review of public and private research portfolios; performing a targeted literature review; statistically simulating the effects of potential interventions to reduce mortality and morbidity; and gathering stakeholder input through repeated surveys. The RTF’s research agenda is structured around a set of aspirational goals addressing key issues in suicide prevention (e.g., identifying those at risk of suicidal behavior through validated screening instruments; incorporating evidence-based suicide prevention strategies into mental health and substance abuse treatment protocols). We will invite research leaders in suicide prevention to work with us to identify the short- and long-term actions needed to meet each aspirational goal. Through this research development process, the RTF will produce a national research agenda highlighting the very best prevention science that if given priority and fully implemented will significantly reduce the rate of suicide and suicide attempts. The RTF will also propose an approach for regular updates to the research agenda.
There are four subcommittees of the Research Prioritization Task Force:
- The Process Subcommittee is designing the process for research agenda development and overseeing its execution. This subcommittee is soliciting input from a diverse group of end-users, suicide researchers, and other stakeholders on research priorities that will have the greatest potential for suicide reduction.
- The Portfolio/Literature Subcommittee is assessing the current “state of the science” for suicide prevention to identify strengths and gaps in existing literature and research portfolios, and to prioritize the nation’s research efforts.
- The Advisory/Expert Subcommittee is recruiting a set of scientific experts, including senior researchers within and outside of the field of suicide prevention, to seek their advice and input during the entire research agenda setting process. This includes activities such as the participating in a survey process, reviewing summaries of the portfolio analyses and literature review, and helping to shape, classify, and characterize scientific research questions associated with RTF goals.
- The Dissemination and Implementation Subcommittee is planning ways to increase awareness and uptake of the research agenda. Implementation of research findings, such as more efficient and coordinated research funding, and uptake of evidence-based interventions, are examples of steps toward the eventual goal of decreased suicide burden. Approaches to updating the agenda are also being planned.
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