Skip to content
CSDE Seminar Series

Population Research Discovery Seminars

Utilizing Population-based Data in Adolescent Suicide Research

Meghan Romanelli, UW School of Social Work



Register for Zoom Seminar HERE

12:30-1:30 PM PT


Population Health Initiative

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among US youth age 10–19. Though the majority of youth reporting suicide ideation do not transition to an attempt, identifying factors associated with this transition remains a priority as suicide attempts are predictive of eventual suicide death. This presentation utilizes ideation-to-action theories of suicide to frame two interrelated studies that examine: 1) demographic, psychosocial, and substance use factors associated with distinct patterns of past 12-month suicide thoughts, plans, and attempts (Study 1); 2) a measurement model of suicide capability (Study 2), and; 3) suicide capability as a moderator of the relationship between level of suicide ideation and attempted suicide (Study 2). These studies harness population-based data from the CDC’s 2015, 2017, and 2019 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), to address prominent limitations of adolescent suicide research focusing on differences between those with suicide ideation and those attempt suicide, i.e., that most studies rely on small, homogeneous, and/or clinical samples where generalizability is limited. Implications for responsive suicide screening and prevention will be discussed within the context of study findings.

Meghan Romanelli is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at University of Washington. Romanelli’s research program primarily aims to understand and address the multisystemic factors that lead to mental health disparities among LGTBQ communities, with a focus on the role of service access and treatment engagement. Her current research describes LGBTQ care-seekers’ experiences with healthcare discrimination and barriers to care, examines how depression and suicide disparities among sexual and gender minorities occur through the mechanism of forgone care or restricted engagement in care, and identifies unique community factors that might improve service acceptability (e.g., what are LGBTQ communities already doing to stay healthy and how can we incorporate these strengths into formal services?). The long-term goal of this program of research is to develop a theoretically grounded and tailored engagement intervention that will promote the wellbeing of LGBTQ communities through improved mental health service access.

As a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with over ten years of experience across various therapeutic settings and modalities, Romanelli considers herself a practice-informed researcher and instructor. As a means to make real-world impact, she integrates her direct practice knowledge, skills, and experiences into both her teaching and research program.

Before joining the UW School of Social Work faculty, Romanelli received training as a pre- and postdoctoral research fellow at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. Romanelli earned her PhD from the New York University Silver School of Social Work in 2019. She holds a master’s of science in social work from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross.