The Diary of Dr. Sharon McDonnell

Aged 53 and 3/4

12th January 2020

Dear Diary


Suicide Bereavement UK has now been trading nearly four years. For those that have read previous posts, you will be aware, that I had previously worked at The Centre for Mental Health and Safety at the University of Manchester for sixteen years, specialising in suicide bereavement research. This is where I conducted my PhD, which explored the experiences and perceived needs of parents bereaved by suicide. I am indebted to my three supervisors (Professor Louis Appleby, Professor Nav Kapur and Dr. Lis Cordingley) for the following reasons:

  • They had the confidence to supervise me, knowing that I had been personally bereaved by suicide, six years previously. Arguably, many academics might be apprehensive conducting such a sensitive research project. Never mind, supervising a mature student, who has also been personally bereaved by suicide!;
  • They provided the conditions where I learnt the importance of valuing and respecting different disciplines’ perspectives in relation to suicide prevention; and
  • They gave me the confidence and skills, ‘to fly the nest’ and create an organisation (Suicide Bereavement UK), that will enable me to continue my work in this field, which is extremely important to me, both personally and professionally, and for this I will always be very grateful.


The University of Manchester and my three supervisors continue to be supportive of my work. I also feel very privileged to be a University of Manchester Honorary Research Fellow. So in reality, whilst I have ‘flown the nest’ – it is reassuring and comforting to know, that I can ‘fly back’ to visit my friends and colleagues at my ‘first and very happy academic home/nest.’