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White House Champions of Change

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NIMH researchers honored with White House Champions of Change award.

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Announcer: For the second time in less than a year, the National Institute of Mental Health and its researchers have been honored by the White House. On August 25th, NIMH and eight suicide prevention organizations were named recipients of the administration’s Champions of Change initiative — with the White House saying “these organizations have saved the lives of countless individuals through their programs and efforts.” NIMH’s Dr. Jane Pearson joined fellow researcher Dr. Kevin Quinn in receiving the honor on behalf of the institute.

Dr. Kevin Quinn: NIMH was honored for its own ongoing efforts with regard to interacting with these organizations and for being the leading research organization in the U.S. looking at the problems of civilian suicide research.

Announcer: Groundbreaking suicide prevention research includes the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members, or Army STARRS — a partnership between NIMH and the military — along with Harvard University, the University of Michigan, University of California at San Diego and Uniformed Services University.

Quinn: Back in 2008, the Army came to the National Institute of Mental Health and said, you know, we realize we have a problem, and during this timeframe, the Army had seen a doubling of their risk for suicide. Traditionally, the Army had had a much lower risk of suicide than the general civilian population. But over this time period, from the early 2000s to 2008, this risk for suicide within the military, and within the Army in particular, had continued to grow to the point where it had just then begun to exceed the civilian population’s risk. And so Army STARRS is a basic research project designed to provide the Army with vital information about, you know, what’s going on, what might lie behind this rise in suicide. With the urgency that the Army has and being able to take these findings and turn them into things that are actionable.

Announcer: An unprecedented mental health study, this partnership between the Army and NIMH runs through the year 2014. The findings and health benefits are expected to reach well beyond service members.

Quinn: And NIMH really believes that the findings from Army STARRS will have an influence on the civilian suicide research issues and be able to help us understand and develop better interventions in the civilian populations as well. So, it’s really important to understand what makes people resilient, because we can learn as much from that as understanding what makes people at risk for suicide. You can look at groups of people and say, OK, what — what’s the difference between the folks that ended up, tragically, going on and attempting suicide or committing suicide versus those that were able to resist those pressures.

Announcer: NIMH is deeply honored to be identified as a Champion of Change along with these organizations dedicated to suicide prevention. And a reminder, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24-hours a day for people who may need to reach out in times of crisis. 1-800-273-TALK.