The Development of the First Suicide Bereavement Research Unit in the UK
I work in the Centre for Mental Health and Risk at the University of Manchester which is the largest suicide prevention research unit internationally. I am currently in the early stages of developing the first suicide bereavement research unit in the UK. This is an innovative, ambitious but achievable task which I am leading as I specialise in suicide bereavement research. The aim is to develop a research unit that focuses on the needs of those bereaved or affected by suicide. Attention will be paid to
- the offender pathway; and
- those responsible for their care.
This initiative is a collaboration with Pennine Care Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and will involve a four pronged approach (refer to diagram below) which will include networking and collaborating with key stakeholders, generating funding, holding an annual suicide bereavement conference and providing education and training in this field.
As you will be aware I have recently received a Winston Churchill Travel fellowship to visit Australia and New Zealand for six weeks to learn how those bereaved by suicide are cared for and supported in these countries. This travel fellowship is very timely as it will enable me to learn what support is available, provide an opportunity to network with key people in this newly developing field and generate ideas for future research projects.
It is important to note that the development of a suicide bereavement research unit within the Centre for Mental Health and Risk sounds very grand. At the moment I am the only researcher who specialises in suicide bereavement within the department. Currently, all that I have is a vision, determination and the support of my managers within my department and the Medical Director of Pennine Care Mental Health NHS Trust. It is going to take time, but watch this space.