Social Work Professor Receives Grant to Enhance Treatment Engagement of Suicidal Individuals

April 30, 2007 @ 4:00 am

For Immediate Release

April 30, 2007

New York, NY – The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) has awarded a grant to assistant professor Dana Lizardi at the Columbia University School of Social Work.  The grant will fund a study to enhance outpatient treatment of suicidal individuals.

Over 30,000 people a year commit suicide, making it the ninth leading cause of death in the US.  While recent studies have reported effective interventions for suicidal individuals, the rate of suicidal individuals going to treatment is very low; up to 60% of attempters fail to attend outpatient treatment one week after discharge.  The goal of the study is to develop and determine the effectiveness of contact intervention to enhance the treatment of suicidal patients following a visit to the emergency department.

“The period of highest risk for individuals reattempting suicide is during the first three months following an attempt,” says Dr. Lizardi.  “At present, we have no effective strategies for ensuring suicidal individuals engage in outpatient therapy. The study aims to help clinicians to engage suicide attempters in outpatient treatment as soon as possible in order to reduce the risk of future suicidal behavior.”

The study will be conducted in collaboration with New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Hospital.  The study employs a contact intervention that will consist of a motivational interview administered by trained clinicians to participating patients and follow-up phone calls and written contact during a three-month period.  The results of the study will provide information on the effectiveness of a comprehensive contact intervention on increasing outpatient treatment engagement of suicidal individuals, and what sociodemographic, psychosocial and/or clinical factors can help predict likelihood of outpatient treatment engagement.

Dr. Lizardi was a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow. She has comprehensive practice experience in the areas of child and adolescent mental health, family therapy, and crisis-intervention. She spent many years as a bilingual clinician in an inpatient psychiatry unit, a psychiatric emergency room, an adult ambulatory psychiatry department, and a child and adolescent psychiatry clinic. She has worked primarily with Latino clients.

For more information, or to interview Dr. Lizardi, please contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or