The Diary of Dr. Sharon McDonnell

Aged 53 and 3/4

31st May, 2020

Dear Diary

During the past few weeks I been so pre-occupied with my personal observations of Covid-19, that I have forgotten to update you on recent developments, associated with my work. Just to remind you, I have specialised in suicide bereavement research for the past twenty years, as a direct result of my brother’s death.My personal loss has been my driving force to help improve the care of those bereaved or affected by suicide.  Arguably this emotional investment in my work, gives me the strength to overcome many obstacles conducting research; and let me tell you I have faced many!  The biggest stumbling block, has been the lack of funding.  

My work is both personal and professional.  ‘No!’  ‘Can’t do’ and ‘It’s impossible’ are not in my vocabulary. I will provide many examples, as I continue writing my posts, but for now, the reasons for setting up Suicide Bereavement UK, might be a good starting point.

I also forgot to mention that whilst employed by the University of Manchester, I secured National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funding (£243k), to lead a research project  which aimed to identify the experiences and perceived needs of parents bereaved by suicide and health professionals responsible for their care. Findings from the above-mentioned study were translated into evidence-based Postvention Assisting Those Bereaved By Suicide (PABBS) training , which is first of its kind internationally. Thanks to the unfailing support of the University of Manchester and NIHR, I have rolled out PABBS training nationally, via my organisation Suicide Bereavement UK[.

In my heart I am a suicide bereavement researcher, who aims to disseminate and share key findings to help influence policy and practice in this field.  However, I have learnt that a by-product of research, is that key findings can be translated into evidence-based training.

Ultimately, I am in a position to educate professionals on the experiences and perceived needs of those bereaved or affected by suicide, by adopting the following approaches:

Moral of this post

Sometimes our difficult life experiences can be used for the greater good. The key is working out the best way to utilise them.