The University of Texas at Austin will collaborate with UT Southwestern Medical Center on the nation’s first study of suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ young adults – a group at higher risk for depression and suicide.
The study, supported by a $5.4 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), is aimed at identifying whether interventions tailored to this population may reduce their risks. Researchers from Steve Hicks School of Social Work and Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin have joined forces with study leaders at UT Southwestern, and with Texas Health Institute, a nonprofit, public health institute based in Austin.
The adapted interventions will address how to identify and screen LGBTQ+ patients in primary care and effectively engage with the participants using strategies that take into account the needs of these young adults who may have experienced negative interactions with health systems in the past.
More than 40% of LGBTQ+ youths have seriously considered suicide during the past year, according to The Trevor Project, a national organization providing suicide prevention services to this population. Although this rate is notably higher than for non-LGBTQ+ youths, little research has been conducted on what types of interventions may be able to address the disparity.
The project will enroll nearly 600 LGBTQ+ young adults (18-24 years old) from the Dallas and Austin areas who have thoughts about suicide. The participants will be assigned to one of two programs that will connect them with mental health care professionals. However, one of the programs also trains support persons – chosen by the patients – to provide them with emotional support and encouragement to use mental health services.