About the Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Research Center

The Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Research Center, launched in 2019, takes a four-pronged approach to the complex problem of preventing depression and suicide in children and youth. It focuses on clinical care, research, education and community engagement.

Clinical Care

Children and youth with depression are cared for in the Child and Adolescent Mood Program (CHAMP), part of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

In CHAMP, kids and teens have several outpatient treatment options, including supportive therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), teen group therapy, multifamily (adolescent) dialectical behavioral therapy skills group, or medication to help manage their symptoms. Care is personalized to best help each patient’s individual circumstances.


The center will conduct research that seeks to identify pediatric mood disorders and suicide precisely and earlier, and to develop innovative inclusive treatment approaches. The goal is to provide high-quality clinical care based on best practice standards and to prevent occurrences.

Specifically, our research seeks to:

  • Identify the biological, psychological and social factors and the complex interplay among them in understanding the risk and potentially protective reasons for mood disorders and suicide risk
  • Identify biomarkers for mood disorders and suicide risk
  • Use our findings to create personalized medicine solutions

We will continue to collaborate with colleagues in CHOP’s PolicyLab and in the Lifespan Brain Institute.


The shortage of clinicians to treat children and youth with mental illness is well documented. Long wait times are difficult for any child with a mental or behavioral problem, but for children with depression, a delay in treatment becomes critical.

The Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at CHOP has several initiatives in place to increase the number of practitioners and to train primary care pediatricians in behavioral health treatment so they can confidently identify potential mental health issues in their patients and feel comfortable managing some patients on their own.

Specific Initiatives:

  • CHAMP prepares trainees across disciplines to evaluate and intervene with depression and suicidal behaviors in youth.
  • The Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Research Center has a research infrastructure to develop investigators who will further knowledge of suicide and depression, particularly in the prevention and clinical care for children and adolescents.
  • The Zero Suicide Team developed the Clinical Pathway for Children and Adolescents at Risk for Suicide in Outpatient Behavioral Health. The pathway provides guidelines for screening, assessing and intervening with youth at risk for suicide. Similar guidelines for depression are currently being developed and will soon be a resource for clinicians and pediatricians.

The center will ramp up its training of students and professionals so they are specifically prepared to provide clinical care and undertake research of mood disorders and suicide prevention.

Community Engagement and Policy

The Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has collaborated with several community organizations to increase awareness of suicide. In her role as a leader in the city of Philadelphia’s Suicide Prevention Task Force, Psychiatrist-in-Chief Tami Benton, MD, organized several town hall and symposium events to bring community partners together to share information about suicide prevention.

We know we can’t tackle this huge problem alone. The Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Research Center will further the work already underway by partnering with city, state and community health and social service agencies, schools, and colleges to disseminate suicide education material. Engaging community groups will allow us to reach more families to raise awareness of depression and suicide risk.

Our research and any newly discovered treatment approaches will be shared widely with other professionals, institutions and community organizations.

We will work closely with local, state and national governments to support public policy efforts that focus on youth mood disorders and suicide prevention.