Suicide Research

Suicide Research

In the UK alone, there are still more than 5,000 suicides each year, and many, many more attempts. Because it is often the young who kill themselves, we lose well over 100,000 life years to suicide. Still more people experience persistent and disturbing suicidal feelings - according to an NHS source, three times as many people think about suicide as attempt it.

We carried out two major studies exploring the insights of people who have experienced suicidal feelings, have attempted suicide, or have been close to someone who has attempted or completed suicide. The research findings of both these studies are presented in the SANE on Suicide web resource.

A New Focus for Suicide Prevention


BIG_Lottery_LogoA New Focus for Suicide Prevention was funded by a grant from the Big Lottery Research Programme.

The majority of suicide research to date has focused on external, observable risk factors such as gender, bereavement, unemployment, substance abuse, self-harming behaviour and so on. Other research has focused on exploring the relationship between mental illness (in particular depression) and suicide, or on suicidal thoughts and ideation.

A relative lack of attention has been paid to the experience of suicidal feelings, which we think is just as relevant to understanding suicide, if not more so.

The aim of project was to understand suicidal feelings from the perspective of those who experience them, and to use this knowledge to help people offer more appropriate support to those at risk. Around 45 people were interviewed for this study. 

The study was approved by the East London and The City Research Ethics Committee Alpha, REC reference number 10/H0704/17.

Click here for the research findings.

The Experience of Suicidal Feelings


The Experience of Suicidal Feelings was supported financially by the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund.

Only one in four people who kill themselves are in contact with mental health services. This means that the people who stand the most chance of preventing suicides are ordinary people: the friends, colleagues, neighbours and family members of those whose lives are at risk. Yet the role of ordinary members of the community in suicide prevention is mostly left unrecognised and unsupported. It has also been under-researched.

The study's aim was to develop an understanding of the process of suicide from the perspective of those who have attempted suicide and those who have been bereaved by suicide. We wanted to enable more people to prevent suicides by recognising and responding to the signs someone is at risk.

The study was based on data gathered from 120 people using questionnaires and interviews, asking what it is like to feel suicidal.

The study was approved by the Joint UCL/UCLH Committee on the Ethics of Human Research (Committee Alpha) ref 10/H0715/5, and the NRES Committee North East - Northern & Yorkshire ref 11/NE/0261.

The research was completed in December 2013, and you can review the findings by clicking here.