College of Social Work Launches Suicide Prevention and Exposure Lab

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 11, 2019) — It's a staggering statistic — 47,000 people in the United States die every year by suicide. As that number continues to rise, the need for dialogue becomes more imperative. The College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky is turning words into actions by launching the Suicide Prevention and Exposure Laboratory (SPEL).

The lab is explicitly dedicated to examining suicide and its impact. More specifically, SPEL will focus on research related to exposure, prevention and the understanding of this phenomenon. Generating empirical knowledge will also allow for a broader and deeper understanding of suicide.

Professor Julie Cerel, who will serve as the lab’s director and principal investigator, currently oversees a number of national and international studies related to suicide. She also has many titles to accompany her expertise. Cerel is a faculty member in the College of Social Work and president of the American Association of Suicidology.

“We need to work to better understand the phenomenon of suicide itself and how suicide profoundly impacts families, individuals and communities," Cerel explained. "We hope the Suicide Prevention and Exposure Lab can contribute to learning more about how to prevent suicide, and how to help those left behind.”

Through the lab, students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to engage in scholarship and research. Additionally, SPEL will collaborate with entities beyond the university community and has already established formal partnerships with academic institutions in Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom, among others.

“Suicide is a very complex phenomenon, and there is a great need for innovative research in this area," Ann Vail, interim dean of the CoSW, said. “Dr. Cerel is uniquely qualified to lead this endeavor, as our college is poised to be able to contribute to better understanding suicide.”    

For more information about the Suicide Prevention & Exposure Laboratory, contact Cerel via email.