Since its inception in 2012, I have directed the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention (ICRC-S), which is a part of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide (CSPS), which was founded in 1998. Previously, I led two other major research centers – the NIMH funded CRC for the Study of the Psychopathology of the Elderly (1986-1995) and the NIMH/NIDA developing suicide prevention research center, the Center for Public Health and Population Interventions for Preventing Suicide (PHP-Center; 2004-2010) – the latter a foundation for the ICRC-S. Each has comprised a diverse multidisciplinary group of investigators. Clinically, I have deep experience in the evaluation, management, and aftercare of seriously ill psychiatric patient, including acutely suicidal individuals, dating to the 1970s, in the past working year-round as an inpatient hospitalist for nearly a decade and as an outpatient psychiatrist for more than two decades. As a mentor, I have directly supervised 10 K awardees and 18 post-doctoral fellows (both MDs and PhDs), as well as numerous fellows from China. Mentoring faculty and fellows remains a deep and abiding commitment, with the aspiration that they will 'grow taller than me.'
The Department developed under my direction an array of collaborative community, clinical, research, and training activities under the umbrella of public health and preventive psychiatry. In this vein, colleagues and I have focused for more than nearly two decades on public health, community, and health system approaches to preventing suicide, suicide attempts, and risk-related adverse outcomes, in great measure by addressing 'upstream' risk and protective factors. The ICRC-S, the only such center in the United States devoted to suicide prevention, seeks to merge injury prevention and mental health perspectives to forge new public health, community-oriented approaches to preventing suicide, attempted suicide, and their antecedent risks. A central emphasis of the ICRC-S has been a focus on suicide prevention among men and women in the middle adult years of life. In addition to focusing upstream on problems such as intimate partner violence and substance use, a key to its efforts has been the development of new ways of identifying populations bearing unique or increased risks and engaging those marginalized groups that have yet to be included in prevention initiatives. We have worked with State of Colorado since 2015 to develop a model effort in the U.S. that seeks to implement and assess comprehensive, integrated approaches to preventing suicides and deaths from other causes (especially drug overdoses) that are related to the same life risks and vulnerabilities.
Since 2001, I also have worked as the director for a series of NIH Fogarty International Center (FIC) training programs devoted to building collaborative infrastructure and preparing early career Chinese researchers devoted to suicide research and public health-population approaches to prevention. While these grants now are ending, the work will continue. More recent efforts have involved expanding health services research and training across the East Asia region, supported by a FIC training grant that has focused on social epidemiology (big data) and mHealth innovations. It is in the context of the work in China that colleagues and I have supported the development of community partnered approaches to research development and to implementation science, a relatively novel approach in many regions.