Wednesday, May 10, 2023

33rd Albert J. Silverman Conference

10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
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Rachel Upjohn Building Auditorium


“Aging & Engaging: Promoting Social Connection to Prevent Suicide in Later Life”




Kimberly A. Van Orden photo

Kimberly A. Van Orden

Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry
University of Rochester Medical Center

Dr. Van Orden’s goal as a researcher is to increase our understanding of how to address the significant public health problem of social isolation in later life. She and her colleagues conduct studies to better understand the different ways isolation (both perceived and 'objective') is expressed and experienced in later life, from restricted social networks, to loneliness, to low social support, to feeling as if one does not belong. We also strive to understand how to reduce isolation and promote connectedness using behavioral interventions. The strong associations between isolation and poor health, as well as the strong associations between social connectedness and good health and well-being, suggests that promoting social connectedness--positive interactions and relationships with others--should in turn positively influence trajectories of health and well-being. However, there are few studies that provide compelling evidence of strategies to increase connectedness. My lab --the HOPE (Helping Older People Engage) Lab is focused on developing new interventions to increase connectedness, as well as testing existing interventions that have promise for increasing connectedness but have not been tested. Social isolation (in its many forms) is also strongly linked to suicide across the lifespan. Another focus of my work is theory testing to promote understanding of suicide and illuminate mechanisms that can serve as intervention targets. Dr. Van Orden has contributed to the formulation, refinement, and evaluation of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide. Much of her work in interventions is informed by this theory and what it suggests may be effective strategies for helping individuals connect and contribute in ways that are meaningful for them. Dr. Van Orden can be reached at:

Department Faculty Presenters

Courtney L. Bagge, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
U-M Addiction Center
Research Investigator, Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System