John Violanti, M.D., Ph.D.

John Violanti, M.D., Ph.D., SUNY Buffalo

Pilot Research Grant (2008): $20,000

Assessing Implicit Self-Injurious Behavior in Police Officers

Abstract: Current methods for evaluating suicide risk rely heavily on self-reports, which can provide limited or misleading information in cases where individuals believe that revealing true feeling or behaviors will lead to negative consequences. This study will test the effectiveness of a newly-developed measure, the Implicit Association Test (IAT), in predicting suicidal ideation, depression and other suicide-related symptoms in police officers, an occupational group with high suicide risk. The IAT uses an individual’s automatic cognitive reactions to computerized verbal stimuli (e.g., “suicide” vs. “life"; “stay” vs. “go”) as the basis for identifying those with suicidal ideation. If police officers’ IAT scores are found to be predictive of suicidal ideation as measured through traditional self-report instruments, the investigators anticipate that the new technique will have utility in identifying officers at risk and in need of intervention.