Suicide Research & Prevention Laboratory

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Suicide is a tragedy incomprehensible to most people, and yet nearly 47,173 Americans took their own lives in 2017; rates are continuing to go up despite efforts by clinicians, researchers and the concerned public. There is no single cause for suicide, but it often occurs when a person finds themselves trapped in an unbearable life situation, where escape seems impossible or unimaginable.

The Galynker Suicide Research and Prevention Laboratory works to investigate the psychological processes which make suicidal behavior possible. Lead by Dr. Igor Galynker, the Lab Director and the Director of the Richard and Cynthia Zirinsky Center for Bipolar Disorder, the research team consists of multidisciplinary group of clinicians and researchers skilled at conducting suicide assessments and at interventions reducing suicide risk.

At the Suicide Research and Prevention Lab, we conduct clinical research focused on understanding the Suicide Crisis Syndrome (SCS), which is a negative cognitive-affective state associated with imminent suicidal behavior in those who are already at high risk for suicide. We also investigate the mechanisms by which traditional long-term risk factors such as mental illness or histories of past attempts interact with the SCS to increase risk of suicide in the immediate future. Our hypothesis is that long term vulnerability factors make it likely for some individuals in stressful life situations to conceptualize their live stories and Suicidal Narratives, which make the future unimaginable, and bring on the Suicidal Crisis.

The lab is actively investigating the Narrative-Crisis Model of suicide, which is based on this premise. Finally, we are studying how clinicians could use their own emotional responses to identify those at the highest risk for imminent suicide.

Dr. Igor Galynker, MD, PhD
Professor in Department of Psychiatry
Director of the Suicide Lab and the Zirinsky Center for Bipolar Disorder