Reducing the burden of suicide in the U.S.: the aspirational research goals of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Research Prioritization Task Force

Am J Prev Med. 2014 Sep;47(3):309-14. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.01.004. Epub 2014 Apr 18.


Background: The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Research Prioritization Task Force (RPTF) has created a prioritized national research agenda with the potential to rapidly and substantially reduce the suicide burden in the U.S. if fully funded and implemented.

Purpose: Viable, sustainable scientific research agendas addressing challenging public health issues such as suicide often need to incorporate perspectives from multiple stakeholder groups (e.g., researchers, policymakers, and other end-users of new knowledge) during an agenda-setting process. The Stakeholder Survey was a web-based survey conducted and analyzed in 2011-2012 to inform the goal-setting step in the RPTF agenda development process. The survey process, and the final list of "aspirational" research goals it produced, are presented here.

Methods: Using a modified Delphi process, diverse constituent groups generated and evaluated candidate research goals addressing pressing suicide prevention research needs.

Results: A total of 716 respondents representing 49 U.S. states and 18 foreign countries provided input that ultimately produced 12 overarching, research-informed aspirational goals aimed at reducing the U.S. suicide burden. Highest-rated goals addressed prevention of subsequent suicidal behavior after an initial attempt, strategies to retain patients in care, improved healthcare provider training, and generating care models that would ensure accessible treatment.

Conclusions: The Stakeholder Survey yielded widely valued research targets. Findings were diverse in focus, type, and current phase of research development but tended to prioritize practical solutions over theoretical advancement. Other complex public health problems requiring input from a broad-based constituency might benefit from web-based tools that facilitate such community input.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advisory Committees
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Health
  • Research / organization & administration*
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology