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Grief Process and Neural Circuitry in Families After a Suicide

2014 Young Investigator Grant
Amount Awarded: $85,000
Focus Area: Neurobiological Studies

Noam Schneck, Ph.D.

Noam Schneck, Ph.D.
Columbia University

Mentor: J. John Mann, M.D., Columbia University

Inside the Research

Bio: Dr. Schneck received his Ph.D. in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2014. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing at Columbia University.

Grant Categories: Psychosocial studies, assessment and risk studies

Abstract: Suicide related grief (SRG) is linked to heightened risks for future suicidal ideation and behavior and psychiatric complications. Processing grief is an important process after a loss. Avoidance in addressing the loss complicates necessary grief-related processing. In contrast, yearning for the bereaved allows for exposure to memories of the deceased and leads to acceptance of the loss. Furthermore, several theories of bereavement have suggested that rigidity in any type of grief style also confers risk for subsequent mental health problems. Dr. Schneck will use a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task and measure yearning, avoidance, rigidity and acceptance in 30 people with suicide related grief as compared to 15 people with non-suicide related grief. He hypothesizes that the groups will differ in terms of yearning, avoidance, rigidity and acceptance and that neural markers will be related to changes that occur during the grief process. Participants will be assessed shortly after their loss and again six months later. In addition to assessing yearning, avoidance, rigidity and acceptance, an emotional Stroop Test and continuous memory induction task about their loved one will be administered to elicit these behaviors during each fMRI scan.

Impact: Increased understanding of suicide related grief leading to interventions to facilitate the grief process.