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Suicidal and Self-Injurious Adolescents With Emotional Dysregulation

2014 Linked Standard Research Grant
Amount Awarded: $214,000
Focus Area: Psychosocial Studies

Michele Berk, Ph.D.
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.
University of Washington

Joan Asarnow, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles

Inside the Research

Bios: Dr. Asarnow received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Waterloo (Ontario) in 1980. She is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA.

Dr. Linehan received her Ph.D in social psychology from Loyola University in 1971. She is currently Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington.

Dr. Berk received her Ph.D in clinical psychology from New York University in 2001. She is currently Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, at the David Geffen School of Medicine of UCLA.

Grant Category: Community intervention studies

Abstract: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents. Adolescents are also at a high risk for insomnia and sleep problems which lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Adolescents who die by suicide are five times more likely to have insomnia during the week before death. Dr. Asarnow, Dr. Linehan, and Dr. Berk’s study will focus on clarifying the significance of ongoing sleep problems in relation to self-harm and suicide. Sleep problems are also related to difficulties regulating emotion which is a pathway to self-harm behaviors. Their study will build upon an existing NIMH-funded study, and they will examine sleep from self-report measurements. They will use a laboratory measure to assess processes that affect emotion regulation. There will be 100 youth participants aged 12-18 who are at high risk of suicide attempts due to their suicidal ideation, emotion dysregulation, and repetitive self-harm. Youth will be asked to record their sleep habits for 10 days and they will also participate in a telephone interview about their suicidal ideation and self-harm. The parents of the youth will also participate in the phone interview. These follow up measures will be assessed at 6 months and 12 months.

Impact: Improved suicide risk detection and interventions for suicidal adolescents with significant insomnia.