Please see below for information about SBRL news
Many congratulations to Laura McDermott (and Deborah McQuaid, Adele Dickson & Rory O'Connor) for winning the Conference Poster Prize at the recent British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology Annual Conference in Liverpool #dcpconf
This study, an in-depth qualitative study, was conducted as part of Laura's doctoral training in clinical psychology. Although a poster cannot do justice to the richness of the interviews, as summarised below, this interpretative phenomenological analysis of the lived experience of suicidal behaviour highlights 3 overarching themes which provide key insights into the suicidal process.
Keep posted for the findings in full as the study is currently being written up for publication.
Research Job Opportunity to work with us on an exciting new project entitled 'Safety planning intervention with follow-up telephone contact (SAFETEL) to reduce suicidal behaviour: a development and exploratory study'.
Closing date: 19th Feb 2017.
In November’s Lancet Psychiatry, Rory O’Connor talks about his research into the suicidal mind as well as how his own personal experiences have influenced his thinking and his career. You can read the article here.
We are pleased to announce the date for the next ECR Forum - 8th and 9th June 2017.
More details will follow soon: Early Career Researchers' (ECR) Forum 2017
To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September, MQ Research, the mental health research charity held a Q&A with Rory O'Connor.
Click here for the Q&A
Many thanks to all of the delegates who attended the ECR Forum on 3rd June. The event was a huge success, with representation from across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Greece. We plan to hold the event annually - so please check back for further information.
Photos from the 1st Early Career Researchers' Forum on Suicide and Self-harm (3rd June 2016) can be found on our Facebook page. Click here.
In addition, all of the tweets from #ECRF16 have been storified. Click here.
Rory O'Connor took part in a Google Hangout live discussion panel on interventions to prevent self-harm.
The discussion begins with a summary of three Cochrane reviews (published by Keith Hawton and colleagues) that assessed the evidence for interventions to prevent self-harm in adults, adolescents and children.
The panel included:
Keith Hawton (Oxford, UK)
Katrina Witt (Deakin, Australia)
Annette Erlangsen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Rory O'Connor (Glasgow, UK)
Ellen Townsend (Nottingham, UK)
Michael Ostacher (Stanford, USA)
SBRL's Olivia Kirtley is taking part in this year's Pint of Science Festival. She will be talking in a session called 'Frontline Biology' at The Butterfly and Pig on Monday 23rd May 2016.
She will be talking about what emotional & physical pain research tell us about suicide and self-harm. Olivia’s research looks at physical pain tolerance in people who self-harm and how this relates to sensitivity to emotional pain.
More information, and tickets, can be found here: https://pintofscience.co.uk/event/frontline-biology
In today’s Profcast we speak to Professor Rory O’Connor, Chair in Health Psychology and Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.
Why did you become an academic?
That’s a good question. From pretty early on in my life, I wanted to be a psychologist. As an identical twin of an identical twin I’ve always been fascinated by nature vs nurture and psychology more generally. Yes, to clarify, my father was an identical twin and I am an identical twin and my twin, Daryl, is also a professor of psychology – at Leeds University (we’re mirror twins actually). Also, when I was 11, I met a clinical psychologist, who really impressed me and I have been pretty much hooked on psychology ever since (I had the good fortune to meet said same clinical psychologist more than ten years later while doing my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast which was great). It was some time later before I decided that I wanted to become an academic rather than a clinician. I remember really enjoying doing a group research project during the 2nd year of my undergraduate degree; this really whetted my appetite for research, which was further reinforced by doing my final year dissertation (an experimental study on learned helplessness and depression). I loved the process, thinking of a problem, formulating it as a question and then systematically attempting to answer it. I have also always enjoyed teaching and again, I had really positive experiences of teaching/supervision as a postgraduate and of developing an extra-mural course on mental health at Queen’s with two colleagues during my PhD.
If you were not an academic what would you be?
I have no idea! In addition to psychology, I remember the careers’ teacher at school giving me information on medicine and ophthalmology – I don’t know where my interest in ophthalmology came from, though.
From a young age, I worked in family-run businesses (arts and crafts shop and a pharmacy) and then throughout my university years I worked in retail (selling menswear, china, cutlery, luggage…the list is pretty endless). So I might have started my own business. Or I might have become a chemist – as I remember being fascinated watching my grandfather making up prescriptions (working in his chemist shop was my Saturday job between the ages of 11 and 13) and the British National Formulary intrigued me (and still does, oddly).
When was the first time you felt accomplished as an academic?
Do you ever feel accomplished as an academic? Isn’t self-doubt, rejection and feeling like an imposter part and parcel of being an academic? Even now, though, I still get a real buzz when I – or a member of my team – get a paper accepted or we get a grant. That’s really rewarding and makes up (a little) for the countless other times when papers/grants are rejected. I have a greater sense of perspective now, so I am better able to appreciate the successes and rejections that academia throws up.
What are the best and worst reviewer’s comments you’ve ever received?
I don’t know if this is the best or the worst reviewer’s comments. But I remember getting exactly the same comments from a reviewer at two different journals – the only difference was the tense in which the review was written. Journal A rejected the paper and then I submitted the paper to Journal B which happened to use one of the same reviewers from Journal A – and all the reviewer did was change their review from the present tense to the past tense! The paper was also rejected by Journal B.
The most frustrating reviews are those which begin with “This is potentially a very important study and then proceed with “but…”and list a catalogue of their own pet-hates. Amusingly, in the past I have been asked to review a paper on which I was a co-author and one on which Daryl was a co-author. Needless to say, I declined both generous requests.
If you could do one thing to improve population health in the UK what would it be?
If eradicating health inequality is too much to ask then I’d go with removing the stigma surrounding mental health.
How do you achieve a work life balance?
I am probably not the best person to ask. Tennis helps a lot and I’ve started to (very slowly) learn the guitar.
How has academia changed since you started?
There have been huge changes so it’s hard to know where to begin. Apart from the obvious things: universities being much more focused on targets and the seemingly year-on-year growth in student numbers – it has been great to see more and more people from non-traditional backgrounds going to university – especially those who are the first in their families to go to university. Easily the most rewarding experience as an academic is watching students grow in confidence as they start to believe in what they can do and what they can achieve.
What makes you happiest?
Hearing my children laugh.
What is your favourite book?
Pride and Prejudice
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Paris or New York
If you could go back in time and do one thing differently what would it be?
That’s a difficult question, as (obviously) my past is what defines who I am. But if pushed and I could go back in time, I would complete a post-doc before taking up my 1st lectureship…as I went straight from my PhD to a lectureship.
Who has helped you most in your career?
Hmmm, lots of people have helped me in so many different ways and have been so generous with their time. I’d say Noel Sheehy, my PhD supervisor, because he was the first academic who took a risk on me – and who really believed in me and helped me to believe a little in myself. My mother has always been such an important role model – passionate about her work with a strong work ethic. Having Daryl by my side (metaphorically) as we have both navigated academia has also been invaluable. I also feel extremely fortunate to have worked with great colleagues like Ronan O’Carroll who have made the day-to-day grind so worthwhile and fun. No matter what, Ronan always has my back, even now; everyone needs a Ronan in their life.
What part of your job do you find most challenging?
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I’ve received lots of good advice over the years but two pieces stand out.
1. You are your harshest critic, so try not to be so hard on yourself.
2. It is important to enjoy your successes.
It has just been announced that the BBC 1 documentary Life After Suicide on which SBRL Director, Professor Rory O'Connor, was an advisor and contributor has been nominated for a BAFTA award in the Best Single Documentary category. The documentary was presented by the brilliant Angela Samata who lost her partner to suicide. It tracks her journey across the country to meet others affected by suicide as she tries to understand why so many men in the UK take their own lives. In the programme, Rory talks about the research he has conducted over the past 20 years on the psychology of suicide including presenting his model of suicide, the Integrated Motivational-Volitional Model of Suicidal Behaviour. Winners to be announced in London on 8th May.
On hearing of the nomination, Rory said:
"I am absolutely delighted that Life After Suicide has been nominated for a BAFTA. Angela Samata presented a difficult topic with such compassion and understanding - it was a pleasure and an honour to work with her and the BBC on this important project."
"This documentary has played a pivotal role in kick-starting a national debate around suicide - more than 800,000 people die by suicide each year across the globe. It is the leading cause of death among young and middle aged men in many countries."
"Since it was first broadcast I have been contacted by countless people directly affected by suicide who were deeply moved by the documentary. In many cases it has helped them deal with their own loss and understand why their loved one took his or her own life. We need more programmes like Life After Suicide as we tackle the stigma around suicide and continue to campaign for more funding for research and vital health and social services."
Rory wrote about his experience of working with the BBC on the documentary here: https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-28/may-2015/starting-national-conversation-about-suicide
The documentary is available on YouTube here.
Angela and Rory talked about the documentary on BBC Breakfast just before it was first broadcast here.
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