GradImpact: Research to Better Understand and Prevent Suicide in Military Veterans

    Lauren Forrest, a doctoral student in psychology at Miami University of Ohio, is on a mission to help U.S. military veterans through her research to identify risk factors related to suicide and self-injury. According to the Veterans Administration, “Veterans accounted for 18% of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults in 2014.” Although a lot of research is being done to better understand why this happens, Forrest argues that a new approach to risk factors is needed.


    You know the five major senses (taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing); but you probably haven’t heard of interoception, a part of the sensory system that manages sensations inside your body. Knowing when you’re hungry, if your breathing is heavier, or your heart rate is fast are all functions processed by your brain through interoception. Forrest hypothesizes that people who don’t adequately process these sensations could be more likely to self-harm, particularly for individuals with a high tolerance for pain and fear.


    Forrest recently received a grant to complete her study from the Military Suicide Research Consortium, a testament to the potential impact to the military community, but her research could have much broader implications. “Suicide and non-suicidal self-injury are really huge public health problems with very significant consequences,” says Forrest. To learn more about Lauren’s work, visit the Miami University of Ohio website.


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    **Photo Credit: Lauren Forrest





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