The goal of this project is to refine and test a novel emotion-regulation based psychosocial intervention designed to reduce suicide risk in middle-aged and older adults (50-90 years old) who have been discharged after a suicide-related hospitalization (i.e. for suicidal ideation or suicide attempt). Suicide rates in this group are alarmingly high, and reducing suicide rates in at-risk populations is a major NIMH priority. We developed a novel psychosocial intervention called ?Cognitive Reappraisal Intervention for Suicide Prevention (CRISP),? which aims to improve cognitive reappraisal (i.e. modifying the appraisal of a situation to alter its emotional significance) (target), and reduce suicide risk (outcome). Our conceptual framework views suicidal ideation and behavior as failed attempts to regulate negative emotions and by improving cognitive reappraisal, an effective emotion regulation strategy, we expect to reduce suicide risk. Our theory is supported by studies showing that unsuccessful attempts to regulate negative emotions and decreased cognitive reappraisal are associated with increased suicidal ideation and behavior. The R61 phase is a proof-of-principle phase and its goals are to optimize CRISP and test its engagement with cognitive reappraisal. Certified social workers will administer 6 or 12 weekly sessions of CRISP to 30 middle-aged and older adults (50-90 years old) after a suicide-related hospitalization. Research assistants, unaware of the study aims, will conduct assessments at study entry (hospital admission), discharge, 6 and 12 weeks post-discharge. Target engagement will be assessed with electrocortical measures (i.e. late positive potential, LPP) and self-reported affect during a novel cognitive reappraisal paradigm. The R33 phase aims to provide further evidence of target engagement of the optimized CRISP in a larger sample, evaluate the relationship of cognitive reappraisal with suicide risk as measured with Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale-C-SSRS and estimate implementation parameters for a large-scale clinical trial. A different sample of 75 middle-aged and older adults (using the same inclusion/exclusion criteria as for the R61 phase) will be randomized (4 to 1) to CRISP (N=60) or to Supportive Therapy (ST, a control treatment not designed to improve emotion regulation) (N=15). Assessments will be conducted on admission, at discharge, and at 6, 12 and 24 weeks post-discharge. Primary aims are: 1) CRISP participants will show improvement in cognitive reappraisal from discharge to end of treatment; and 2) improvement in cognitive reappraisal will be associated with suicide risk over 24 weeks.

Public Health Relevance

Suicide risk is high in middle-aged and older adults, and especially in those who have been hospitalized for suicidal ideation or suicide attempt. We propose to study a novel psychosocial intervention that targets cognitive reappraisal, a biologically-linked emotion regulation strategy, to reduce suicide risk in this population. If we show that our intervention improves cognitive reappraisal and proportionately reduces suicidal risk, we may have identified a mechanism of action to reduce suicide risk and thus we may provide hope and relief to a large number of middle-aged and older adults and their families.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-D (04))
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Niederehe, George T
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Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Kiosses, Dimitris N; Alexopoulos, George S; Hajcak, Greg et al. (2018) Cognitive Reappraisal Intervention for Suicide Prevention (CRISP) for Middle-Aged and Older Adults Hospitalized for Suicidality. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 26:494-503