The Diary of Dr. Sharon McDonnell

Aged 53 and 3/4

Date: 31.12.19
Dear Diary

The end of a decade is approaching and a time for quite reflection. This decade has been very eventful both personally and professionally for me. There have been lots of twists and turns, opportunities, challenges, with the odd disappointment thrown into the mix.

In relation to my work, the first major influence was in 2013, when I was awarded a Winston Churchill travel fellowship to visit Australia and New Zealand to identify good practice in the field of postvention http://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows/reports/witnessing-good-practice-field-suicide-bereavement

This wonderful adventure was life changing and instrumental in having the courage, in my fifties (2016), to ‘dare’ to leave the security of long term employment, at a university and set up my business Suicide Bereavement UK to enable me to continue conducting suicide bereavement research.

For those that don’t know me, I lost my brother to suicide, many years ago and the reason why I initially started working in this field (refer to following link) www.suicidebereavementuk.com/blog/my-personal-experience-of-being-bereaved-by-suicide/

The past three years have been rewarding. Setting up my own business, has enabled me to reinvest profits into suicide bereavement research that I wish to conduct. Examples include:


• I lead the research team conducting the national suicide bereavement survey which has recruited 7,100 people. This study is a collaboration between the University of Manchester and Support After Suicide Partnership. My team (i.e. Sandra Flynn, Isabelle Hunt, Jenny Shaw, Barry McGale, Shirley Smith), and I have provided our services/expertise free of charge. A report will be published in 2020. Findings will be of national and international importance; and

• Emergency Services Postvention Response study, with my colleague Andrea Walraven-Thissen, based in Germany. This study is first of its kind and will undoubtedly influence practice both nationally and internationally etc

I have so much to tell you diary. My new year’s resolution is to update you on my progress and adventures.

The moral of this post, is chase your dreams or what you believe in, regardless of your age. Your courage and sheer determination will help you get there – good luck x