Pilot feasibility trial of a brief mobile-augmented suicide prevention intervention for serious mental illness

Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2023 Mar;46(1):74-82. doi: 10.1037/prj0000547.


Objective: People with serious mental illnesses (SMIs) are at high risk for suicidal ideation and behavior, and yet few suicide prevention interventions have been customized for this group. We describe the outcomes of a pilot trial of Mobile SafeTy And Recovery Therapy (mSTART), a four-session suicide-focused cognitive behavioral intervention for SMI, designed for the transition from acute to outpatient care and augmented with ecological momentary intervention to reinforce intervention content.

Methods: The primary objective of this pilot trial was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of START. Seventy-eight people with SMI and elevated suicidal ideation were randomized to either: (a) mSTART or (b) START alone (i.e., without mobile augmentation). Participants were evaluated at baseline, 4 weeks (end of in-person sessions), 12 weeks (end of mobile intervention), and 24 weeks. The primary outcome of the study was change in suicidal ideation severity. Secondary outcomes included psychiatric symptoms, coping self-efficacy, and hopelessness.

Results: A total of 27% of randomized persons were lost to follow-up after baseline, and engagement with mobile augmentation was variable. There was clinically significant improvement (d = 0.86) in suicidal ideation severity scores sustained over 24 weeks, with similar effects seen for secondary outcomes. Preliminary comparison indicated a medium effect size (d = 0.48) advantage at 24 weeks of mobile augmentation in suicidal ideation severity scores. Treatment credibility and satisfaction scores were high.

Conclusions and implications for practice: START, regardless of mobile augmentation, was associated with sustained improvement in suicidal ideation severity and secondary outcomes in people with SMI at-risk for suicide in this pilot trial. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03198364.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide Prevention

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03198364