Kimberly H. McManama O’Brien, PhD, LICSW is a Research Scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at 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 use substances. Her research also involves training social workers and other health professionals in suicide- and substance-related knowledge and brief interventions.

Dr. 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. Dr. O’Brien is a co-investigator on two other NIMH-funded studies; one is examining factors that lead sexual minority youth to have higher rates of suicidal and non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors, and the other is developing and testing a novel suite of simulated suicide risk assessment trainings for practitioners.


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

Selected Publications

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Almeida, J., O’Brien, K., Gross, E., & Gironda, C. (2017). Development, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive course on suicide in a Masters of Social Work program. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(4), 727-736.
  4. O’Brien, K., Knight, J.R. & Harris, S.K. (2017). A call for social responsibility and suicide risk screening, prevention, and early intervention following the release of the Netflix streaming series, ‘13 Reasons Why.’ JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(10), 1418-1419.
  5. O’Brien, K., Aguinaldo, L.D., White, E., Sellers, C.M., & Spirito, A. (2018). A brief alcohol intervention during inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for suicidal adolescents. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 25(1), 22-31.
  6. O’Brien, K., Sellers, C.M., Wyman Battalen, A., Ryan, C., Maneta, E., Aguinaldo, L.D., White, E., & Spirito, A. (2018). Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a brief alcohol intervention for suicidal adolescents in inpatient psychiatric treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 94, 105-112.
  7. O’Brien, K., Putney, J.M., Collin, C.R., Halmo, R.S., & Cadet, T.J. (2019). Optimizing SBIRT training for nurses and social workers: Testing the added effect of online patient simulation. Substance Abuse, 1-5.
  8. O’Brien, K., Wyman Battalen, A., Sellers, C.M., Spirito, A., Yen, S., Maneta, E., Ryan, C.A., & Braciszewski, J.M. (2019). An mHealth approach to extend a brief intervention for adolescent alcohol use and suicidal behavior: Qualitative analyses of adolescent and parent feedback. Journal of Technology in Human Services.
  9. Sellers, C.M., Diaz-Valdes Iriarte, A., Wyman Battalen, A., & O’Brien, K. (2019). Alcohol and marijuana use as daily level predictors of suicide ideation and attempts among adolescents prior to psychiatric hospitalization. Psychiatry Research, 273, 672-677.
  10. Taliaferro, L., Almeida, J., Aguinaldo, L.D., & O’Brien, K. (2019). Function and progression of non-suicidal self-injury and relationship with suicide attempts: A qualitative investigation with an adolescent clinical sample. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 24(4), 821-830.
  11. O’Brien, K., Fuxman, S., Humm, L., Tirone, N., Pires, W.J., Cole, A., & Goldstein Grumet, J. (2019). Suicide risk assessment training using an online virtual patient simulation. mHealth, 5(31).
  12. O’Brien, K., Almeida, J., View, L., Schofield, M., Hall, W., Aguinaldo, L.D., Ryan, C.A., & Maneta, E. (in press). A safety and coping planning intervention for suicidal adolescents in acute psychiatric care. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice.
  13. O’Brien, K., Nicolopoulos, A., Almeida, J., Aguinaldo, L.D., & Rosen, R. (2019). Why adolescents attempt suicide: A qualitative study of the transition from ideation to action. Archives of Suicide Research, 1-18.


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. The relationship between alcohol and cannabis use with nonsuicidal self-injury among adolescent inpatients: Examining the 90 days prior to psychiatric hospitalization. Addict Behav. 2021 03; 114:106759. View abstract
  2. Alcohol and marijuana use as daily predictors of suicide ideation and attempts among adolescents prior to psychiatric hospitalization. Psychiatry Res. 2019 03; 273:672-677. View abstract
  3. Substance use and suicidal ideation among child welfare involved adolescents: A longitudinal examination. Addict Behav. 2019 06; 93:39-45. View abstract
  4. Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a brief alcohol intervention for suicidal adolescents in inpatient psychiatric treatment. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2018 11; 94:105-112. View abstract
  5. A Call for Social Responsibility and Suicide Risk Screening, Prevention, and Early Intervention Following the Release of the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why. JAMA Intern Med. 2017 10 01; 177(10):1418-1419. View abstract
  6. Parental monitoring affects the relationship between depressed mood and alcohol-related problems in adolescents. Subst Abus. 2015; 36(1):82-4. View abstract
  7. Acute behavioral interventions and outpatient treatment strategies with suicidal adolescents. Int J Behav Consult Ther. 2014; 9(3):19-25. View abstract