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Published on Sep 10, 2019
A soldier named Jerome Motto received caring letters from home in World War II. They helped boost his spirits and later led to one of the nation’s first successful suicide interventions.
Today, with military personnel being more mobile, researchers tested out the effectiveness of caring texts sent to active-duty military.
The study of 658 randomized participants at three military installations was led by Kate Comtois, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. The results were published Feb. 13 in JAMA Psychiatry along with a podcast with the researchers.
Comtois said the most significant finding was that the caring contacts reduced the odds of a suicide attempt. The contacts lowered the risk from 15 percent to 9 percent.
“Caring contacts is an entirely different way to engage and take care of suicidal individuals,” she said. “It can both prevent suicidal behavior and provide support over periods of stress and transition.”
As for the primary aims -- reducing current suicidal ideation and suicide risk incidents, such as hospitalizations or medical evacuation -- the study was inconclusive. But the study did have impactful findings and secondary outcomes as well as clinical implications.