By Rebecca Musgrove I’ve always loved numbers. I have vivid memories of the excitement of solving complicated A-level maths problems. I enjoyed the lack of ambiguity; either the answer was right or it was wrong. It was knowable. Twenty years later, via a career implementing community health projects, where there is rarely one straightforward solution,… Continue reading Getting reflexive: Reflections from a data loving researcher
By Rosie Pendrous. In psychological research, we rely on being able to measure a construct (such as depression) or a behaviour (such as frequency of past self-harm) in a valid and reliable way . In doing so, we need to balance developing measures that accurately tap into the construct or behaviour we intend to measure… Continue reading Using single-item measures in suicide and self-harm research
By Laura Hemming. “You’re not going to see him on your own, are you?” It was my first day collecting data in prison and I was trying to navigate the complicated process of identifying a potential participant to meet and discuss my research with. “No, no you’d be better off seeing John Smith . He… Continue reading Tips for researching suicide in prison
By Justine Dickhoff. The role of the brain in suicide Our brain is one of the most fascinating organs. Even though it only makes up 3% of our body weight it keeps our body running all day. It helps us to accomplish our work, go from place to place and let us understand when a… Continue reading How studying the brain can help us to reduce suicide
By John F. Gunn III. I have always had an interest in theoretical perspectives of suicide – so much so that I convinced David Lester to edit a book on the topic with me . I even attempted my own supposition on a theoretical framework some years ago . However, as I developed as a… Continue reading Suicide in Context: How Bioecological Theory Could Advance Theories of Suicide
By A. Jess Williams. So, you’re doing a systematic review? Dear God. Panic stations. At some point, either you or your PI will say “hey, how about we start this off with a systematic review?” Sounds good right? Yep, very logically. But then you feel overwhelmed; how did you get to this point?! Fear not.… Continue reading Help! I’m doing a systematic review!
By Jessica Leather. Psychological science has been at the centre of many people’s minds since the COVID-19 pandemic began, especially those in search of effective public health messaging and coping strategies. Recently an expert panel in psychological science highlighted mental health as a research priority, due to the shifting social conditions and economic instability resulting… Continue reading Applying Behavioural Science to Self-harm Prevention
By Hilary Norman. “We often tell people to “ask for help” to “reach out”, to “share,” but there is a paradox at play here. It’s often when you’re struggling the most that you are least able to articulate what it is you are feeling and what you need.” @white_owly It’s not always easy to put… Continue reading When you don’t have the words…
By Austin J. Gallyer. There are many scientists in the field of suicidology who believe that there are reliable differences in the way the brain functions in people who think about or attempt suicide compared to those who don’t [1-3]. This belief that suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and psychiatric conditions in general, are driven by… Continue reading Are There Brain Differences in Those Experiencing Suicidality? It’s Complicated.
By Abigail Paterson. I recently completed the data collection for the first study in my PhD and when I did, I realised that this also signalled the end of my first study which asked participants about their self-harm behaviour. It was two big milestones for me in my PhD and before I begin data analysis… Continue reading Reflecting on asking about self-harm for the first time
By Kai Lim The arrival of the genomics revolution is changing many aspects of the world, including the study of psychiatry and mental health . As the cost of genotyping declines over time, more people can be recruited in genomics studies, and we will be able to understand more about the genetic risks for different… Continue reading How can genetics help us understand self-harm?
By Erik Reinbergs. Measuring complex constructs related to suicide (i.e., suicidal ideation, planning, behaviors, intent, attempts, etc.) is extremely challenging. Many of these terms lack agreed upon definitions and are frequently used imprecisely, making accurate measurement difficult in even the best designed studies . Without accurate measurement, however, the validity of psychological research is severely… Continue reading Highlighting measurement challenges in suicide research
By Wouter van Ballegooijen Everyone has a smartphone. Well no, but 80% of people do (in the UK and the Netherlands) and it’s safe to say that your average patient in adult and adolescent mental health care will have one. I recently calculated that each of my two-year-old smartphone’s 8 processor cores have 15 times… Continue reading How smartphones can revolutionise suicide research
By Jessica Leather Data collection through web-based organisations has become increasingly common in academic research, due to the promise of large sample sizes and lightning-fast data delivery. Companies such as Qualtrics, Amazon Mechanical Turk and YouGov provide researchers with the opportunity to purchase or ‘crowdsource’ participants for online surveys and cognitive tasks. Some offer in-depth… Continue reading Tips for collecting data through an external organisation
By Olivia Kirtley The lab and questionnaire-based nature of much self-harm and suicide research means that we often only have access to snapshots of participants’ experiences and behaviours. Furthermore, the chronic lack of prospective and longitudinal research in the field means we know very little about how behaviours and experiences change over time. Most often,… Continue reading Out of the lab and into everyday life: Using Experience Sampling Methods to better understand self-harm and suicide
By Rosie Pendrous Recruiting people into psychological studies can be challenging, especially in an area as sensitive as suicide/self-harm. Researchers are increasingly turning to the internet to recruit people based on the popularity and accessibility of social media. Social media is now widely accessed by the general population, with approximately 89% of UK adults accessing the… Continue reading Experiences of online recruitment for suicide research: Some best practice recommendations
By Sadhbh Byrne The ethical considerations of suicide research with young people are aptly-described ‘thorny’, not least because young people are, by default, considered a vulnerable population. Although the concept of ‘vulnerability’ in this context is socially constructed , , and therefore difficult to precisely define, it appears that this is due to the confluence… Continue reading The balancing act: Empowerment and agency versus protection and safety – Reflecting on the requirement for active parental consent in suicide research with young people
By Austin J. Gallyer The Problem Suicide is an international public health crisis. In the United States (U.S.), the suicide rate increased by 33% from 1999 to 2017 , and in Scotland, the suicide rate increased by about 15% from 2017 to 2018 . Because of this large public health burden, scientists have conducted research… Continue reading The need for a “Psychological Science Accelerator” in suicide research
By Elystan Roberts Everyone who has ridden the rollercoaster of pubertal development knows just how difficult it can be. Between the ages of 10 and 20, our bodies and brains undergo some of the most substantial changes of our lives. Alongside managing huge fluctuations in circulating sex hormones and fundamental neurocognitive change, we face new… Continue reading Is there an association between pubertal timing and self-harm?
By Katherine Brown Harm minimisation and self-harm ‘Harm minimisation’ approaches aim to reduce the damage that happens when someone engages in behaviour that could negatively affect their health . Although the approach has its origins in the field of substance misuse , it has since been used in other areas - including the treatment of… Continue reading Do Harm Minimisation Techniques Really Help Young People Who Self-harm?