Dr. Barbara Thayer
According the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide has been steadily increasing as a cause of death since the turn of the century (HHS, 2021). Specifically, individuals with traumatic spinal cord injuries are at an increased risk of suicide compared to the general population. The current evidence-based best practice is cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at addressing underlying depression that may accompany spinal cord injuries. This study aims to investigate the possible impact psychological counseling has on suicidal thoughts/feelings following traumatic spinal cord injuries. Additionally, this study will probe how participants’ motivation to attend psychological counseling may correlate with self-reported levels of distress and suicidal ideation. The focus of this study is on how therapeutic intervention can play a role in recovery from traumatic spinal cord injuries. Participant data from the Spinal Cord Injury Rehab database will be used. The Spinal Cord Injury Rehab database consists of data collected from 1,376 participants recovering from spinal cord injuries at six Spinal Cord Injury centers throughout the United States. The Spinal Cord Injury Rehab database comprises 5 years of data surrounding various facets of inpatient rehabilitation. Higher levels of motivation and active participation are expected to be associated with lower levels of distress and suicidal ideation. The proposed research will provide a glimpse into how psychological intervention supports recovery from a traumatic spinal cord injury.