Jonathan’s Voice is delighted to be part funding this project with a leading research team at the University of Glasgow led by Professor Rory O’Connor.
The researcher on the project, Susie Bennett writes
Male suicide is a significant problem in the UK. It is the biggest killer of men under 50 and, according to the latest statistics from The Samaritans, three-quarters of all suicides in 2018 were male. These numbers are extremely concerning. Male suicide rates result in a significant public health crisis. However, academic research into what causes male suicide and how to reduce it is surprisingly lacking. This lack of research leaves vital gaps in our understanding of why so many men die by suicide in the 21st century Britain and what more can be done to prevent it.
I began this research for personal reasons because suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviours have impacted people I love. I have seen up close what profound levels of unprocessed emotional pain can do to an individual and the lack of meaningful state support for people in suicidal crises and their families. I wanted to understand what drives suicidal behaviour and what can help keep people safe. I focus specifically on male mental health because of the extremely high suicide rates amongst men, combined with the lack of research. There is an urgent need to understand better what puts men at risk of suicide.
The research is being undertaken within the ‘Suicide Behaviour Research Lab’ led by Professor Rory O’Connor. Professor O’Connor has made a massive contribution to the global knowledge base of suicide behaviour and it is a privilege to work under his guidance. The team here are incredibly supportive of one another and a spirit of collaboration fuels what we do. Everyone is very committed to creating a better understanding of why suicide happens and how we can reduce its prevalence.
Currently, I am completing the first systematic review of the qualitative research that exists on suicidal men. Systematic reviews are an established research tool, designed to provide a comprehensive summary of current evidence on an issue. This is a crucial first step as it will enable me to review all of the relevant research and develop a “bigger picture” to facilitate understanding of the topic. From this review, I will develop a framework of the critical drivers of suicide behaviour in men and key recovery interventions. I will then test the validity of this framework through an online survey and I will also conduct interviews with men who have attempted suicide and people bereaved by male suicide.
I passionately believe that people with lived experience must be at the heart of suicide research and prevention. We can only begin to understand a behaviour as complicated as suicide if we engage the wisdom and expertise of those who live that reality. Findings from my research will be shared with all key stakeholders involved in suicide prevention in the UK, to help inform policy, clinical practice, and suicide theory. It will illuminate the work of researchers, policymakers and charities currently engaged in urgent efforts to reduce male suicide rates.
Thank you, Susie.. This is such valuable research and we look forward to your updates.