NOT-MH-23-336 - Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Coordinating Center for Approaches to Identifying Preteen Suicide Risk and Protective Factors (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to solicit applications encouraging foundational research projects that seek to refine and test valid methods for characterizing preteen suicide risk and protective factors across multiple domains, and for operationalizing suicide thoughts and behavior (STBs) and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) among preteen youth (ages 8-12). An emphasis is placed on the inclusion of sub-populations of youth that experience health disparities and may have been underrepresented in prior youth suicide research. Studies may focus on developing new or adapting developmentally and culturally appropriate methods for assessing and characterizing risk and protective factors, examining the acceptability and utility of existing assessment methods, evaluating the relevance of risk and protective factors for diverse preteen youth and their families, modeling risk-factor trajectories, and refining sampling strategies. The research projects funded through this announcement will participate in a research consortium with other R01 recipients. In addition, each research site will work with the Data Coordinating Center (DCC) site (supported by a companion announcement) to share and analyze data, recommend candidate measures that will be included as common data elements in future research and practice contexts,and identify optimal approaches for sampling individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.
This Notice of Intent to Publish (NOITP) is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects, and to consult with NIH in order to submit responsive applications.
The NOFO is expected to be published in Summer 2023, with an expected application due date in Fall 2023.
This NOFO will utilize the R01 activity code. Details of the planned NOFO are provided below.
Suicide rates among youth in the United States are a significant public health concern. Youth and young adults ages 10 24 account for 14% of suicides. For youth ages 10-14, suicide is the second leading cause of death. Although age-specific suicide rates for youth aged 10-14 are low relative to adults, suicide deaths in this age range tripled between 2007 and 2020, and girls aged 10-14 continued to have increasing rates during 2018-2020, a period when adult suicide deaths decreased (see Suicide Mortality in the United States, 2000-2020). In addition, trends in suicide death for children and adolescents show many of the same disparities for suicide deaths in other age groups. Sexual and gender minority, American Indian, and Alaska Native youth experience the highest rates of youth suicide (Disparities in Suicide). Moreover, the rate of suicide deaths over time has continued to trend upward for racial and ethnic minority youth, including those who identify as Black, Hispanic, Latine, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.
Scope and Objectives
This initiative supports longitudinal studies that seek to refine protocols for the assessment of pre-teen STBs and associated risk and protective factors and/or define risk trajectories in pre-teen youth, with consideration for identification of novel targets for future development of prevention and intervention efforts. For the purposes of this initiative pre-teen is defined as ages 8-12. An emphasis is placed on efforts that will enhance our knowledge of suicide risk among youth from sub-populations at higher risk for STBs or in which suicide death rates have been rising at significant rates, particularly those typically underrepresented in suicide research. Applications are expected to define and justify the sampling strategy of the proposed research in terms of risk and associated burden (e.g., the number of affected individuals, the associated level of suicide risk, and/or overall burden associated with unmet mental health needs) and anchor the assessment of risk and protective factors in the relevant developmental and cultural context.
The scope of the proposed research may include optimizing existing assessment instruments to ensure that they are developmentally and culturally appropriate, developing and validating new or adapted measures to assess STBs and risk or resilience constructs that may have high predictive value for risk in pre-teens, examining the acceptability and utility of new or existing assessment methods, and/or developing and testing methods for characterizing risk trajectories.
NIMH encourages multi-level, translational assessment approaches to characterize core constructs, domains of functioning, and relevant cognitive/affective processes associated with pre-teen suicide risk. Applicants will be asked to provide the empirical justification for the selection of constructs, measures, and assessment schedules. Consideration should also be given to the environmental/social/developmental factors that have been empirically linked with suicide risk states and are relevant to the project’s empirically grounded assessment strategy (e.g., exposure to early adversity or economic hardship; geographic location/neighborhood context; familial/social context and support; developmental stage; victimization/bullying; experience of discrimination; digital media exposure). For constructs related to social determinants of health, including systemic, structural, and interpersonal racism, referencing the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Framework is recommended. Rigorous mixed method approaches are strongly encouraged. Studies that employ only qualitative methods will not be considered responsive .
Translational assessment approaches that are developmentally and culturally sensitive are encouraged and may include, but are not limited to, multi-level assessment of Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)-like domains and constructs, such as negative valence, cognitive control, arousal and regulatory systems, and social processes that can be feasibly measured via low-burden approaches that go beyond self-report (e.g., mobile- or sensor-based assessments, computerized or task-based assessments, exposure to social media and other digital content). While translational assessment approaches including measures of neurobiology are allowed, applicants will be encouraged to consider including surrogate measures that are feasible and practical for use in larger scale research studies and clinical practice. Applicants will be encouraged to consider measures that might be candidates for inclusion in a core common assessment battery for future research studies.
A variety of longitudinal study designs are of interest, including cohort and accelerated longitudinal studies that facilitate the examination of risk and protective factors, and their interaction over time. Given the low mean base rate of STBs in pre-teen youth, an emphasis is placed on the use of risk-based sampling to construct cohorts that are enriched for rates of STBs and exposure to suicide risk factors. Risk inclusion groups may include but are not limited to youth with a lifetime diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder or history of STBs/NSSI, youth from sub-populations with higher population rates or higher increase in rates over time of suicide (e.g., Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, sexual and gender minorities), youth with increased exposure to adversity, and youth with a family history of suicide, mental illness, and/or substance abuse. The inclusion criteria, sampling strategy, longitudinal design, and observational period should be justified in terms of the relevant empirical literature regarding risk and protective factors, the developmental time course of suicide risk, and epidemiological findings.
Research Team Expertise
This NOFO strongly encourages applications that assemble an interdisciplinary, collaborative research team comprised of experts in the fields of mental health research and clinical practice, suicide research, developmental psychopathology, minority mental health and health disparities, and community-engaged research, as well as investigators with expertise relevant to the project’s focal area and/or methodological approach (e.g., translational assessment, measurement development, biostatistics/computational approaches, risk-factor modeling). Inclusion of community stakeholders is also encouraged to ensure the outcomes and interpretation of the research reflect the priorities of the populations being studied.
Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with NIMH program staff when developing plans for an application.
Applications are not being solicited at this time.
Please direct all inquiries to:
Eric R. Murphy, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)