Sarah Spafford

Institution: University of Oregon (Center on Human Development, Suicide Prevention Lab)

Supervisory team: Dr. John Seeley

Position: Research Associate

Current research: I am interested in finding ways to decrease stigma around suicide and increase connection for those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts. Specifically, how do we improve the continuum of care for individuals with suicidal thoughts, from community members to mental health professionals. My dissertation synthesized evidence on the effectiveness of suicide prevention gatekeeper training on behavioral outcomes.

Research Interests:

  • Suicide prevention training and workforce readiness
  • Older adult suicide
  • Experiences of working with suicidal individuals

Key Publications:

  • Hawgood, J., Spafford, S. G., Evans, A., Webster, A., & Koo, Y. W. (2022). Suicide risk assessment fears, attitudes and behaviours of lifeline crisis supporters. Health & Social Care in the Community, 00, 1– 12.
  • Muruthi, J., Spafford, S., & Osa, M. L., DeLouize, A., Biritwum, R., Naidoo, N., Kowal, P., & Snodgrass, J. J. (2021). Suicidal ideation in older Ghanaian women: The roles of bodily pain, functional limitation, and chronic health conditions. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. Advanced online publication.
  • Metcalfe, R. E., Spafford, S. G. & Ziring, A. (2021). Calling in for care: Best practices for telehealth administrations of adolescent suicide assessments. The Oregon Psychologist. Advanced Online Publication.

Can help with: I am passionate about collaboration and finding new ways to work together to advance the field. I’m always open to brainstorming or being a sounding board for new ideas. I am also happy to share my experiences, whether in grad school or the workforce or to simply be a supportive, listening ear. I also have some experience with evidence synthesis and extensive experience in suicide prevention training.

What’s essential to your well-being? The support I have from my husband, family, and friends is what keeps me going. Also, my wonderfully fluffy dog and cat who bring loads of joy to life. I am also adult gymnast, which is where I go to play and challenge myself in a new way. At home, you’ll usually find me curled up with a good book and a cup of tea. To continue in this work I need strong work-life boundaries, lots of self-compassion, a supportive team, and a growth mindset.

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