Recommendation 1

The National Institute of Mental Health (in collaboration with other agencies) should develop and support a national network of suicide research Population Laboratories devoted to interdisciplinary research on suicide and suicide prevention across the life cycle. The network of Population Laboratories should be administered by NIMH and funded through partnerships among federal agencies and private sources, including foundations. Very large study samples of at least 100,000 are necessary because of the relatively low frequency of suicide in the general public. A number of Population Laboratories (e.g., 5–10) are necessary to capture the data for numerous and complex interacting variables including the profound effects of demographics, region, culture, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. Extending the efforts into the international arena where cultural differences are large may provide new information and can be fostered and guided by such global organizations as the World Health Organization and the World Bank and by the Fogarty International Center at NIH.

  • The network should be equipped to perform safe, high-quality, large-sample, multi-site studies on suicide and suicide prevention.

    • Each Laboratory would have a population base of approximately 100,000. At a base-rate of 10–12 suicides per 100,000 people, this population base of the network would significantly improve the available data for estimates of suicide incidence, capacity for longitudinal studies, development of brain repositories, access to representative samples for prevention and intervention studies, and studies of genetic risk for suicide. Several such laboratories would provide adequate data to assess the numerous and complex interacting variables including the profound effects of demographics, regions, culture, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. Coordination and collaboration among centers should be encouraged to further enhance the breadth of the database.

    • The laboratories would cover an ethnically and socially diverse and representative population and would recruit higher risk individuals and subgroups in communities within the population laboratories for longitudinal and more detailed studies.

    • Treatment and prevention studies would be carried out in

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