UROP Mentor

Lisa Wexler, PhD

UROP Research Team (2020-2021)

  • Joshua Kennedy
  • Lauren Kouassi


What is your research project?

Promoting Community Conversations about Research to End Suicide (PC CARES)

What are the goals of your research project?

Aim 1: Document the feasibility, satisfaction and perceived benefits of PC CARES At Home
Aim 2: Track the effect of PC CARES At School on participants’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior, and identify key factors influencing these outcomes over time.
Aim 3: Document the community-level impact of PC CARES At School by describing and tracking the number and type of interactions aimed at preventing youth suicide and promoting wellness in participating schools.

Why is this research important?

Youth suicide continues to disproportionately affect Indigenous communities, and has been difficult to detect early, prevent and reduce. In rural Indigenous communities,8-16 youth suicide is an extreme health disparity with Alaska Native (AN) suicide rates in remote villages up to 18 times higher than the rates of all American youth, ages 15-24 (124 vs 6.9 per 100,000). Multilevel interventions are needed to reduce the disproportionately adverse consequences of COVID-19 that increase the already high risk of suicide for AN young people. It is vital to support AN youth who are showing signs of vulnerability but are not yet suicidal. Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide (PC CARES)49 is an intervention that aims to engage adults across multiple community sectors who interact with young people in suicide prevention and wellness behaviors to reduce suicide risk. It is built on the notion that community members are cultural and community experts, who are in the best position to create working solutions to their health problems. PC CARES also recognizes that scientific knowledge can guide these efforts to strategic benefit.

PC CARES At Home involves direct mailings and social media interaction to maintain connection with community members who started with the first cohort (N=140) that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From on-going conversations with our community partners and research advisors, we designed a way forward that maintains physical distance while preserving the essence of the PC CARES model: self-determined, scientifically-supported and multilevel suicide prevention education to engage and support local ‘communities of practice’ in preventative efforts to support youth.

We want to continue to build local capacity to support youth wellness and do primary suicide prevention by sending information and material resources to enact some of the teachings in the curriculum. The outreach involved PC CARES Package mailings every couple months, with invitations to opt-into more consistent exchanges of ideas and support through a private Facebook page.

PC CARES At School is an adapted version of our parent intervention to a synchronous distance-delivered format for school personnel and community health workers (both of whom have access to high-speed internet).

Is there a Call to Action you would like to encourage?

To increase your awareness about youth and/or Alaska Native Youth suicide, you can attend the Tell Your Heart Story Resource Fair, a FREE online event hosted by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and check out the PC CARES virtual booth.
Register for the resource fair here: https://whova.com/web/resou1_202105/.

What resources would you recommend to learn more about your research topic?

Visit our project website, which has numerous research papers and detailed information and updates about the project: https://www.pc-cares.org/

Follow the following Facebook pages: