Our long-term goal for the VNED is to create a cadre of mental health researchers studying suicide prevention who are members of, or interested in working with, diverse populations. To do so requires attracting early career investigators with these backgrounds and interests, and providing them with the mentorship, knowledge, and skills needed for successful academic careers. Our first objective is to engage members of diverse populations in the scientific enterprise by supporting their study of a major public health problem of relevance to their communities, such as suicide. Our second is to explore innovative ways of drawing people into virtual and face-to-face activities that will encourage and support mentoring, research collaborations and training experiences. The most cost-effective and efficient way to provide nurturing, consultation and support is through the use of virtual technologies to supplement more traditional, face-to- face (F2F) encounters;that is, to create a virtual network.
The specific aims of this proposal are (1) to recruit a critical mass of suicide prevention research teams consisting of mentors and proteges;(2) to create an Academic Development Plan (ADP) for each protege that reflects expected participation and contributions by all the team members;(3) to provide opportunities for experiential learning through activities designed to disseminate content on the current state of suicide research in diverse populations;and (4) to evaluate the effectiveness of the network to recruit, retain and educate its members and thereby develop a robust supportive virtual community of suicide researchers that represent the heterogeneity of the US population. Measurable outcomes are to produce two webinar series, for network members to submit a manuscript outlining lessons learned with regards to suicide research with diverse populations, for each protege to construct a well thought out research proposal outline and an individualized ADP, and for the proteges and mentors to participate in a F2F focus group session. This resulting mentoring network will provide the infrastructure to facilitate learning and engagement with geographically-dispersed suicide research scientists who represent the diversity in the US population.
Through specific virtual and face-to-face interactive programs, career development opportunities, and tailored mentoring VNED proteges from diverse backgrounds will develop skills and knowledge necessary for establishing a career in the study of a major public health concern: suicide in diverse populations.