CAIH Receives Bloomberg American Health Initiative Spark Award

For Innovation in Youth Suicide Prevention

Theme(s):
Mental Health

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health received a Bloomberg American Health Initiative (BAHI) Spark Award to build and test a mobile-health tool that identifies youth at imminent risk for suicide and enhances crisis intervention and case management by Native American community mental health workers.

Spark Awards are designed to support innovative projects that provide a foundation for future research and practice. Launched at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a transformational $300 million investment from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative (BAHI) will invest in intellectual resources that shape the public health agenda for a healthier nation.

Building on award-winning surveillance system
The Center and the White Mountain Apache Tribe have been partners in research for over 35 years to address health disparities within Native communities. Through this initiative, they will work to design and test the tool. The mobile-health tool will build on the Apache’s award-winning tribally mandated surveillance system, the first and only one in the U.S. to gather data on suicidal behavior from both community and clinical settings.

First, the current surveillance system’s intake and case management forms will be converted to an electronic format. Then a review  of the previous 10 years of surveillance data of people who were referred for suicide ideation, attempt, death, and other forms of self-harm, including binge drinking and drug use will illustrate what characteristics, such as gender, age, and educational status, were associated with highest risk for suicide attempt and death.

Increasing outreach to youth at greatest risk
This data will be used to “train” the mobile health tool such that when new referrals come in, the tool can predict which individuals are at higher risk for future suicide attempt or death. The Apache mental health workers will then receive a list of individuals prioritized for immediate outreach. The Center will assess if the tool:

  • Decreases time between risk event and follow-up
  • Increases outreach to youth at the highest level of risk and prioritizes follow-up and support for these young people,
  • Facilitates better communication about emerging patterns in suicidal behaviors to community health and human service agencies, and ultimately
  • Reduces suicide attempts and deaths.

Positioned to Rapidly Scale in Southwestern Tribes
If effective, the mobile health tool will be scaled to four other tribal nations—Cherokee, Hualapai, Navajo, and San Carlos Apache—participating in the Center’s Southwestern Hub for Youth Suicide Prevention Research, which has just launched with support from the National Institute of Mental Health. 

Learn more about the center’s work to promote mental health and well-being.

For more information, contact Mary Cwik, mcwik1@jhu.edu.