Back in July I blogged an impressive programme aimed at suicide reduction, commenting that it was a shame the report lacked scientific detail. Here is a report from the USA on a different programme, with the scientific detail.
The programme is based in the US Air Force. Much of it was aimed at tackling the stigma associated with mental illness, which is likely to be a particular problem in the military, but there were also some very practical aspects, for example:
"The period following an arrest or investigative interview is a high-risk time for suicide. Following any investigative interview, the investigator is required to "hand off" the individual directly to the commander, first sergeant, or supervisor. The unit representative is then responsible for assessing the individual's emotional state and contacting a mental health provider if any question about the possibility of suicide exists."
The statistical analysis is horrendous which is as it should be for a time series analysis. The basics are however sound - good long data runs both before and after the programme was implemented.
A small point to note - this is data from a closed community; we should consider whether the results look good because people leave the community and then commit suicide. There is no evidence that this is happening here but it should cross your mind. It is like the difference between in-hospital mortality and 30--day mortality: a hospital can reduce its in-hospital rate by discharging patients early.
Note also the comment that they started all of this with no sound theoretical underpinning. Sometimes you can't wait for the theory. (That doesn't mean you can be hare brained.)