EDC's Kimberly O’Brien staff portrait


Kimberly H. McManama O’Brien, PhD, is a research scientist at EDC with joint appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her work focuses on the development and testing of brief interventions for suicidal adolescents and their families, with an additional specialization on adolescents who misuse prescription drugs and other substances. Her research also involves training social workers and other health professionals in suicide- and substance-related knowledge and brief interventions.

O’Brien was recently funded by NIAAA to develop and test a brief alcohol intervention and mHealth booster for adolescents who have attempted suicide. She is also co-developing and testing a smartphone application intervention for adolescents at risk for suicide. O’Brien is a co-investigator on two other NIMH-funded studies: (1) examining factors that lead sexual minority youth to have higher rates of suicidal and non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors and (2) developing and testing a novel suite of simulated suicide risk assessment trainings.

O’Brien received her BA from Harvard University and her MSW and PhD from Boston College. She has also completed her postdoctoral training at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

“The most effective interventions for suicidal adolescents are those that are affirming and validating, enhance positivity and reasons for living, and involve the family in a supportive and meaningful way.”

Speaking Highlights

Leveraging Technology to Prevent Adolescent Suicide

Invited Presentation, Health Experience Refactored Conference, Designing to Support Mental Health & Addiction Recovery
April 5, 2016

Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Suicide Course in a MSW Program

Invited presentation, 14th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference – New Momentum: Suicide Prevention Across the Lifespan
Framingham, MA
April 29, 2015

Understanding Adolescent Suicide Attempts to Adapt a Safety Planning Intervention

Invited Presentation, Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention (ICRC-S), Partnering for Suicide Prevention Research and Practice in the Northeast
April 8, 2015

Selected Publications

O’Brien, K., Knight, J. R., & Harris, S. K. (2017, July 31). A call for social responsibility and suicide risk screening, prevention, and early intervention following the release of the Netflix series 13 reasons why. JAMA Internal Medicine. Advanced online publication. 

O’Brien, K., Aguinaldo, L.D., Almeida, J., & White, E. (2016). The role of parents in safety planning interventions with suicidal adolescents. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, 18(1), 727-729.

O’Brien, K., LeCloux, M., Ross, A., Gironda, C., & Wharff, E.A. (2016). A pilot study of the acceptability and usability of a smartphone application intervention for suicidal adolescents and their parents. Archives of Suicide Research, 1-11.

O’Brien, K., Putney, J.M., Hebert, N.W., Falk, A.M., & Aguinaldo, L.D. (2016). Sexual and gender minority youth suicide: Understanding subgroup differences to inform interventions. LGBT Health, 3(4), 248-251.