Suicide and self harm

‌Suicide is one of the leading causes of premature mortality in the UK with an estimated one million suicides worldwide.  Bristol hosts a vibrant community of quantitative, qualitative and clinical researchers whose common aim is to better understand the causes of suicide and suicidal behaviour so as to inform clinical and population based prevention strategies. Two of the world’s largest trials of self-harm prevention were led by Bristol researchers.

Key resources

Key resources for research into suicidal behaviour in Bristol include:

  • The Bristol Self-Harm Surveillance Register and strong links with local liaison psychiatry services
  • Repeated measures of self-harm in the ALSPAC cohort (n=13,000 participants)
  • Extensive experience interviewing suicidal individuals
  • Expertise in using CPRD for pharmacoepidemiological research
  • Strong collaborative links with leading suicide researchers in particularly Taiwan, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Denmark, Sri Lanka and the USA.
  • Excellent working relationships with WHO, the Samaritans and local service users
  • A £1.7 million NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research into suicide prevention (2012-2017)

Bristol's suicide and self harm research interest group (SASH) meets monthly with informal presentations on ongoing research projects, invited guest speakers and journal club style presentations. Contact Dee Knipe () for further details.

Academics working in this area: Lucy BiddleJenny DonovanDavid GunnellChris MetcalfeJohn PotokarPaul Moran, Kyla Thomas,  Becky Mars,  Robert Carroll, Dee Knipe Jane Derges, Will Hollingworth, Judi Kidger

Selected current grants

  • Eddleston M, Agampodi S,  Jayamanne S,  Konradsen F,  Gunnell D, Hawton K, Weerasinghe M Pearson M. Preventing pesticide suicides by restricting access through vendors  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention US$ 99,905 March 2014-Feb 2016
  • NIHR Programme Grant: Gunnell D, Hawton K, Kapur N, Donovan J, Potokar J, Hollingworth W, Lennon S, Davies R, Cooper J, Saunders K, Davies L, Metcalfe C, Longson D, Claydon D, O’Connor R. A multi-centre programme of clinical and public health research to guide health service priorities for preventing suicide in England NIHR 2012. £1,765,660 (ref No. PGfAR RP-PG-0610-10026) 1 April 2012-31 March 2017 (link: 
  • Moran P, Henderson C, Ougrin D, French R, Slade M, Gordon L, Minto S. Decision support for young people who self-harm.  Funded by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity.£376,152.   (2013- 2016);
  • Biddle L, Gunnell D, Donovan J, Wyllie C, Potokar J. Exploring the use of the Internet in relation to suicidal behaviour: identifying priorities for prevention Department of Health Policy Research Programme. £234,496 July 2013-Nov 2015.

Selected publications

  • Moran P, Coffey C, Romaniuk H, Degenhardt L, Borschmann R, Patton G (2015) Substance use in adulthood following adolescent self-harm: a population-based cohort study.  Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 131: 61–68 
  • Thomas K, Martin R, Knipe D, Higgins J, Gunnell D. Risk of neuropsychiatric adverse events associated with varenicline: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2015;350:h1109   DOI:
  • Kidger J, Heron J, Leon DA, Tilling K, Lewis G, Gunnell D. Self-reported school Experience as a Predictor of Self-Harm During Adolescence: A prospective cohort study in the South West of England (ALSPAC). J Aff Disorders 2015;173: 163-169 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.11.003
  • Ougrin D, Trannah T, Stahl D, Moran P, Asarnow J. (2015). Therapeutic Interventions for Self-harm in Adolescents: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(2):97-107
  • Mars B, Heron J, Crane C, Hawton K, Kidger J, Lewis G, Macleod J, Tilling KGunnell D. Clinical and social outcomes of adolescent self-harm: Findings from the ALSPAC birth cohort. BMJ 2014;349:g5954 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g5954
  • Carroll R, Metcalfe C, Gunnell D. Hospital Presenting Self-harm and Risk of Fatal and Non-fatal Repetition: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. PLOS ONE 20149(2):e89944. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089944
  • Aschan L, Goodwin, L, Cross S, Moran P, Hotopf M, Hatch S (2013). Suicidal behaviours in South East London: Prevalence, risk factors and the role of socio-economic status. Journal of Affective Disorders. 150(2), 441–449.
  • Moran P, Coffey C, Romaniuk H, Olsson C, Borschmann R, Carlin J, Patton G (2012). The natural history of self-harm from adolescence to young adulthood: a population-based cohort study. The Lancet. 379 (9812), Pages 236 – 243.
  • Biddle, L, Cooper, J., Owen-Smith, A., Klineberg, E., Bennewith, O., Hawton, K., Kapur, N., Donovan J. & Gunnell D. (2013). Qualitative interviewing with vulnerable populations: Individuals' experiences of participating in suicide and self-harm based research. Journal of Affective Disorders, 145, 356-362. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2012.08.024
  • Knipe DW, Metcalfe C, Fernando R, Pearson M, Konradsen F, Eddleston M, Gunnell D. Suicide in Sri Lanka 1975-2012: Age, period and cohort analysis of Police and Hospital data. BMC Public Health 2014;14:839  DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-839
  • Owens, C., Lambert, H., Donovan, J., Lloyd, K. Tales of biographical disintegration: How parents make sense of their sons’ suicides. Sociology of Health and Illness, 2008;30(2):237-254
Image from World Health Organization - Suicide prevention (SUPRE) website. Image credit: World Health Organization
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