Project Background

In Ontario, the number of people who present to hospital Emergency Departments with self-harm is difficult to accurately assess, however the best estimate is approximately 30,000 per year. Presentation to Emergency Departments is associated with increased use of health and social care services.

 Self-harm has a strong association with suicide: 1.6% of people presenting to Emergency Departments with self-harm will kill themselves within one year. This rate is more than double in males compared to females (2.7% vs 1.2%). After five years, approximately about 4% of people presenting with self-harm will have died by suicide. This risk is more than 50 times greater than the general population rate.  

Study Summary

The Beacon Suicide Prevention in Men Pilot Study is a 6-week study designed to evaluate the use of problem-solving therapy supplemented by a smartphone application in men who present to emergency departments with intentional self-harm. Participants have been referred to the study by clinical staff at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH), General and Civic campuses.

Study Purpose

To assess the feasibility and acceptability of smartphone facilitated problem-solving therapy, by both patients and clinicians. Results from this study will be used in two ways. First, to generate a training manual for problem-solving therapy that incorporates the use of a smartphone application. Secondly, results from this study will inform a larger cluster randomized controlled trial of smartphone facilitated problem-solving therapy to be implemented in emergency departments located in five Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across Ontario.

Study Outcomes

  1. Development of a treatment manual for problem-solving therapy that incorporates the use of the smartphone application.
  2. Assess the acceptability and practical usability of the intervention among patients and clinicians.
  3. Assess the feasibility of recruitment which will inform the recruitment strategy of the larger cluster randomized controlled trial.

Study Publications

Coming Soon!

Study Presentations

Hatcher S. & Heisel, M. (June 02, 2017). “Suicide Prevention Among Men: Innovative Interventions with a High-Risk Demographic.” Presentation by: S. Hatcher & M. Heisel Hatcher at the 18th Collaborative Mental Health Care Conference (2017). Ottawa, ON.

MacLean, S., Testa, V., Heisel, M. & Hatcher, S. (May 19, 2017). Results from a pilot study of smartphone-assisted problem-solving therapy for men who at-risk for self-harm. Presented by: S. MacLean at the 2017 Young Researchers Conference. Young Researchers. Ottawa, ON.


Study Status


Study Team

Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Simon Hatcher

Co-Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Marnin Heisel

Dr. Rebecca Carriere

Research Team:
Valerie Testa
Sarah MacLean
Craig MacKie

Funding Award:
2016-2019: Ontario SPOR Support Unit (OSSU) ID: NCT02718248

Thank you to our study partners


This study has been approved by The Ottawa Health Science Network Research Ethics Board (Protocol #20150765-01H).