Dr. Laura Frey

Associate Professor, CFT Program Director

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Exploring the role of family members during a suicidal crisis - specifically how they can reduce stigma, provide support, and facilitate access to treatment is essential to improving the recovery process for suicide attempt survivors.

Dr. Frey’s primary interest is in the intersection of family processes and suicide prevention. Her research utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the role of stigma and family interactions following a loved one’s disclosure of suicidal ideation or behavior. Dr. Frey’s work has demonstrated links suggesting disclosure and subsequent family reaction predict depression symptoms and the interpersonal needs that predict the desire to die. Moreover, she found that individuals with a lifetime history of suicidal behavior perceived the highest rates of stigma from close family members, which was the best predictor of subsequent depression symptoms compared to stigma from other sources (e.g., therapists, nurses, clergy.) Dr. Frey is currently the principal investigator for a grant funded by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that examines the effect of parental expressed emotion on adolescent disclosure of suicide ideation and how they impact treatment adherence moving forward.

Dr. Frey’s previous and current work emphasize the important role of family members during the recovery process for suicide attempt survivors. As a licensed clinician and family scientist, Dr. Frey aspires to conduct research that has clear implications for both family life educators and mental-health service providers. All too often, the family environment is considered a treatment context only for children and adolescents, which limits our efforts in treating suicidal behavior within adults. Dr. Frey advocates for examining the family’s role in experiences leading up to suicidal behavior and the assets families can provide in the treatment process for individuals of all ages.