Reconnecting: Improving Interoception to Reduce Suicidal Ideation in the Military
Principal Investigator: 

April Smith

Miami University

Interoception is defined as the “sense of the physiological condition of the entire body” and is crucial for recognizing emotions and sensations (e.g., hunger, temperature, pain) and responding accordingly. Disrupted interoception leads one to be disconnected from the body, and thus more susceptible to self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. Research from Dr. Smith’s lab at Miami University suggests that interoceptive deficits may not only differentiate those who are thinking about suicide from those who engage in suicidal behavior, but it may also provide information about who is at imminent risk for suicidal behavior. The identification of novel, short-term risk factors, like interoceptive deficits, allows for the development of new treatment applications for suicide, which is important for several reasons: 1) suicide rates have increased in recent years, especially among military populations; and, 2) existing treatment approaches are often ineffective, lengthy, expensive, or impractical for large-scale dissemination. This project evaluates a novel, brief intervention for interoceptive deficits and suicidal behavior with the potential to be acceptable and feasible for a military population.

The study will test the effectiveness, acceptability, and feasibility of a computerized intervention to improve psychological functioning. The study will look at whether the intervention improves a feeling of connection to the body and reduces negative outcomes, like suicidal ideation.

Results of Smith’s project has the potential not only for the reduction of suicidality, but also for improvements to military performance and future functioning. Because the intervention is designed to be portable, low cost, and brief, it can also overcome barriers to traditional face-to-face treatment and even be a treatment option to deployed Service members.