April 28, 2017 – This past week, our Director of Research, Dr. Lee Tran, and undergraduate intern, Ben Gelbart, presented at the American Association for Suicidology Conference. Topics covered included the state of military suicide prevention, new programs in community mental health, and challenges faced by the mental health community.
Each researcher at the conference has personally been affected by suicide, and each has dedicated their career in preventing continued loss of lives. Suicide is a challenging research area because of the stigma and personal nature of the subject, but with so much we don’t know about suicide, and so many lives lost each day, we cannot afford to back down.
Special acknowledgements goes out to Ben Gelbart, a third year social psychology undergraduate student at Arizona State University, who was one of the youngest researchers to not only courageously take on a heavy topic for even senior mental health researcher, but intellectually debate with seasoned researchers, such as Dr. Thomas Joiner — one of the leading suicidologist and is known for developing the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPT) that is used in crisis centers across the nation.
Dr. Tran also gave a talk on integration of phenomenology and neurobiology in clinical practice. The session was specifically about military suicide, which has been historically higher than the general population. Most of the work presented was based on civilian suicide attempts. However, with recently established partnership in the DOD ADNI project, Dr. Tran hopes to expand research to help military veterans. The DOD ADNI is a collaborative initiative sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD) examining biomarkers and cognitive signatures of Vietnam War Veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).