Understanding suicide and self-harm

The aim of the research conducted within the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory was to use theoretical models derived from different areas of psychology to enhance our understanding of self-harm and suicide. As many of the traditional risk factors for suicidal behaviour are not sensitive enough to differentiate between the vast majority of people who do not die by suicide and those who do, our research aimed to identify more grained psychological risk factors for suicide and self-harm. Our research has been cited in numerous key national policy and practice documents throughout the UK and beyond including government policy on suicide and self-harm prevention and the National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence’s (NICE) and Royal College of Psychiatrists’ clinical guidelines on the management of self-harm and suicide risk.

Example publications

O'Connor, R.C., O'Carroll, R.E., Ryan, C., and Smyth, R. (2012)Self-regulation of unattainable goals in suicide attempters: A two year prospective study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 142 (1-3). pp. 248-255. ISSN 0165-0327 (doi:10.1016/j.jad.2012.04.035)

O'Connor, R.C., Rasmussen, S., and Hawton, K. (2012)Distinguishing adolescents who think about self-harm from those who engage in self-harm. British Journal of Psychiatry, 200 (4). pp. 330-335. ISSN 0007-1250 (doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.111.097808)

O'Connor, R.C., Rasmussen, S., and Hawton, K. (2010) Predicting depression, anxiety and self-harm in adolescents: The role of perfectionism and acute life stress. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48 (1). pp. 52-59. ISSN 0005-7967 (doi:10.1016/j.brat.2009.09.008)