Reaching Those at Highest Risk for Suicide: Development of a Model Using Machine Learning Methods for use With Native American Communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Suicide prevention is a major priority in Native American communities. We used machine learning with community-based suicide surveillance data to better identify those most at risk. Method: This study leverages data from the Celebrating Life program operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona and in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. We examined N = 2,390 individuals with a validated suicide-related event between 2006 and 2017. Predictors included 73 variables (e.g., demographics, educational history, past mental health, and substance use). The outcome was suicide attempt 6, 12, and 24 months after an initial event. We tested four algorithmic approaches using cross-validation. Results: Area under the curves ranged from AUC = 0.81 (95% CI ± 0.08) for the decision tree classifiers to AUC = 0.87 (95% CI ± 0.04) for the ridge regression, results that were considerably higher than a past suicide attempt (AUC = 0.57; 95% CI ± 0.08). Selecting a cutoff value based on risk concentration plots yielded 0.88 sensitivity, 0.72 specificity, and a positive predictive value of 0.12 for detecting an attempt 24 months postindex event. Conclusion: These models substantially improved our ability to determine who was most at risk in this community. Further work is needed including developing clinical guidance and external validation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-436
Number of pages15
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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