Developing long-, short-, and near-term dynamic models of risk and resilience for intentional self-harm in BC youth

My research aims to answer two questions: when and under what circumstances do some young people intentionally physically harm themselves, and how can we improve our clinical tools to reduce these behaviours? Intentional self-harm is alarmingly prevalent in young British Columbians: around 5-7% of BC youth have attempted to end their own lives, 10-15% have experienced serious suicidal thoughts, and 15-18% have engaged in non-suicidal self-injury. These behaviours can have devastating impacts on youth, their families, and their communities. Providing care for suicidal youth is among the most stressful tasks that mental health professionals face, due in part to the difficulty of accurately predicting risk.

To address this important health problem, we need to improve knowledge of:

  1. signs of imminent, near-term risk of intentional self-harm, and
  2. dynamic processes of accumulating risk or resilience in vulnerable youth. My research uses linked provincial health records, prospective cohort studies, and smartphone and wearable technologies to study how risk and resilience for intentional self-harm evolve over hours, days, weeks, months, and years. The research will be used to create and improve decision-making and self-monitoring tools that youth, caregivers, and clinicians can use to reduce and prevent self-harm.