How a 'caring contact' can prevent suicide

September 10, 2019

How a 'caring contact' can prevent suicide

For Suicide Awareness Day, Amanda Kerbrat, a research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is teaching health-care providers how to implement a simple but powerful tool to prevent suicide: caring contacts. Caring contacts are messages of support to show someone you care about their well-being. This simple intervention builds on the work of Jerome Motto, a World War II soldier who became a psychiatrist and researcher. He used caring letters to conduct the first successful clinical trial to reduce suicides.

Kerbrat said caring contacts is something that you can do for someone you care about, but they can’t be about what you get back or don’t get back from them.

"It’s just saying I hope you’re OK and I’m here. I’m thinking about you," she said.

Related story: UW Medicine researchers led a study of caring contacts for 658 randomized participants at three military installations that was published Feb. 13 in JAMA Psychiatry along with a podcast with the researchers.  

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