Research Spotlight: Ashley Blanchard, Lock and Protect Study

Dr. Ashley Blanchard

Dr. Ashley Blanchard: Lock and Protect Study

Lock and Protect: Reducing Adolescent Access to Lethal Means for Suicide is a pilot study, led by Dr. Ashley Blanchard, to investigate the feasibility of a novel, tablet-based emergency department intervention. Emergency departments capture a young adult population at high risk for suicide but have limited resources to implement existing evidence-based interventions, such as lethal means reduction. Lethal means reduction is based on the idea that reducing access to highly lethal means of suicide during a time of vulnerability can prevent suicide by decreasing the lethality of attempts. This is of critical importance during adolescence, when the transition from ideation to action is often sudden and unplanned and thus involve using the most readily available methods to attempt suicide. The primary aim of this study is to determine the acceptability and feasibility of implementing the Lock and Protect decision aid and the feasibility of conducting a future trial in the ED among parents whose adolescents are at risk of suicide. These aims will allow us to develop effective strategies to subsequently test and implement Lock and Protect in the ED. The Lock and Protect study brings together experts from across Columbia, including the Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, and Implementation Science Initiative. This study is supported by the Columbia Irving Institute and Columbia Center for Injury Science and Prevention Intervention-and-Implementation Science Pilot Award.

The Lock and Protect study is spearheaded by Dr. Ashley Blanchard, a pediatric emergency room physician and assistant professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Blanchard completed her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at CUIMC. During her clinical training she also obtained a Masters in Biostatistics and Patient Oriented Research at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the prevention of pediatric injuries and deaths within the high-risk populations she treats in the emergency room. She has a specific interest in suicide and gun violence prevention. Her current work aims to use mobile health technology to reduce adolescent access to lethal means and prevent adolescent suicide. Dr. Blanchard also serves as a faculty member in the Columbia Scientific Union for the Reduction of Gun Violence (SURGE) and works with national injury prevention programs, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, to develop national policies.