General Session Speakers

Utilization of Telemental Health for Suicide Prevention

15:00 PM April 16th
Sasha Rojas, PhD, Telehealth and Rural Outreach Fellow, VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division
Marilyn Piccirillo, M.A.,Psychology Intern, VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division
Erika Shearer, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division
Jean Kim, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division

The highest rates of suicide occur in rural and remote areas where individuals have limited access to specialized mental health services.1 Despite advancements in expanding access to evidence-based mental health treatments via video based technology (e.g., Clinical Video Telehealth; CVT), there is limited work specific to addressing suicide risk. Most CVT studies exclude individuals experiencing suicidal ideation or recent suicidal behavior.Considering the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a national leader in CVT efforts, we explored differences in suicidal behavior among Veterans receiving in-person or CVT mental health treatment. Suicide risk was indexed by a Suicide Behavior Report (SBR) at three time points: 6 months prior to first CVT appointment in 2017, during treatment in 2017, and 12 months following first appointment in 2017). Fisher’s exact test and a discrete time survival analysis via the Kaplan-Meier method were used to determine whether suicide risk differed as a function of telehealth status. Overall, results indicated that suicide risk does not differ among Veterans receiving CVT versus in-person treatment. As such, clinical providers should be ready to attend to and provide evidence-based treatments for suicide risk via CVT. Clinical recommendations and best practices for suicide prevention via CVT will be presented.
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