Proximal Risk for Suicide: Protocol for an Ecological Momentary Assessment Study

JMIR Res Protoc. 2022 Jul 12;11(7):e37583. doi: 10.2196/37583.


Background: Suicide is a prevalent public health concern in the United States across all age groups. Research has emphasized the need to identify risk markers that prevent suicide along shorter timeframes, such as days to weeks. Furthermore, little has been done to explore the relative significance of factors that can predict short-term suicide risk or to evaluate how daily variability in these factors impacts suicidal ideation or behavior. This proposed project aims to identify risk factors that best predict near-time changes in suicidal ideation and examine potential interactions between these factors to predict transitions into suicidal thinking or behaviors.

Objective: The aim of this proposed study is threefold: (1) To identify which psychological risk factors are most strongly associated with proximal changes in suicide risk across days and weeks. (2) To evaluate theoretical assumptions of the Integrative-Motivational-Volitional Theory of Suicide. (3) To determine how disruptions in physiological arousal interact with theoretical mechanisms of risk to predict concurrent and short-term prospective increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Methods: A daily diary or ecological momentary assessment design will be utilized with 200 participants. Participants will complete 2 in-person visits separated by 3 weeks during which they will complete 3 brief daily assessments within their natural environments using the ilumivu research app on a smart device. Research will occur at the Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS) Eau Claire site. Participants will be recruited through chart review and standard care delivery assessment.

Results: This manuscript outlines the protocol that will guide the conduct of the forthcoming study.

Conclusions: The proposed project aims to lead efforts using technological advances to capture microchanges in suicidal thinking/behavior over shorter timeframes and thereby guide future clinical assessment and management of suicidal patients. Results of this study will generate robust evidence to evaluate which risk factors predict proximal changes in suicidal ideation and behaviors. They will also provide the ability to examine potential interactions with multiple theoretically derived risk factors to predict proximal transitions into worsening suicidal thinking or behaviors. Such information will provide new targets for intervention that could ultimately reduce suicide-related morbidity and mortality.

International registered report identifier (irrid): PRR1-10.2196/37583.

Keywords: Integrative-Volitional-Motivational Theory; diary; ecological momentary assessment; suicide; suicide ideation; suicide prevention; suicide risk.