It’s been a busy couple of months here in Houston as we’ve hit the ground running in developing a strong local foundation for Operation Deep Dive! A key highlight was Cheree Tham’s visit to Houston for our third Community Action Team (CAT) meeting on May 28th. Majority of the meeting was spent on data: where it is coming from, what it is being used for and what we are doing with it. Answers to these questions and other meeting notes can be found here.
During her visit, Cheree shared a major update that marks a turning point in the study: the Institutional Review Board (IRB) has approved the study protocol! For those that are unfamiliar, IRBs provide oversight to ensure that research is conducted ethically and participant wellbeing is protected. For Operation Deep Dive, we must submit our plans on how all data will be collected, stored, analyzed and destroyed after use. This process also requires that we share all documentation, including recruitment documents, the Sociocultural Death Investigation Tool (SDI) used in interviews, and any emotional support or resources provided to participants after their interview.
IRB approval also means that Research Assistants (RAs) can now conduct interviews with the surviving family members and friends of veterans who have died by suicide or self-harm. This is an important milestone because it means that we can begin looking at the community/environmental factors surrounding the deceased veteran’s death, a defining factor of the study. Each interview will be based on the SDI tool which consists of questions related to the deceased veteran’s adjustment to civilian life, finances/work, housing, family dynamics and social connectedness (among other domains), as we know these community-level factors impact a veteran’s disposition and engagement with their community/environment.
If you or someone you know lives in the Houston area and may be interested in participating in the study as an interviewee, or if you are a veteran serving organization that would like to be engaged, please reach out to Katie McCormick via phone (832-408-0393) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.