Couples Crisis Response Planning to Reduce Post-Discharge Suicide Risk
Principal Investigator: 

Alexis May

The project will test the effect of the couples crisis response plan (C-CRP) on suicidal ideation in a sample of partnered service members at elevated risk for suicide compared to treatment as usual. A secondary aim of this project is to determine how recall and use of the C-CRP impacts suicidal ideation over time and identify the specific role partners play in managing risk.

The partners of military service members are in an excellent position to identify suicide warning signs in and provide support to service members; however, many partners do not know how best to respond in crisis situations. Further, no couples-based suicide prevention interventions have been developed.

Alexis May, Ph.D, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University, suggests an evidence-based single-session intervention, crisis response planning, may be adaptable for use with service members and their partners. With funding from the Military Suicide Research Consortium, May plans to carry out a two-phase randomized clinical trial to examine whether couples crisis response planning, or C-CRP, is efficacious in reducing suicidal ideation, is feasible to implement, and is acceptable to at-risk couples. 

In the first phase, 50 military couples will be surveyed to determine the needs and preferences of service members and their partners for suicide prevention interventions. This information will be utilized to inform a randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of C-CRP on suicidal ideation in 78 service members who were hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and their partners. 

Half of these couples will undergo a single session of crisis response planning, and the other half will undergo an unstructured couples session. All couples will then complete follow-up assessments at hospital discharge, as well as at one-, three-, and six-months after receiving intervention. May will then examine whether the C-CRP has lowered suicidal ideation over time and whether partners’ involvement in the crisis response plan increases the use of coping strategies.

Overall, this type of preventative approach could be valuable, as few studies have investigated how to best include military partners in suicide prevention efforts. If the study results are positive, May says, C-CRP could be an ideal intervention for use in the military environment, as it is brief, structured, and easily transported; can be provided by non-doctoral level providers; and adds a focus on the broader family and social support network, as opposed to the service member alone.


No news on file at this time.