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Dr Sharon McDonnell is the Founder and Managing Director of Suicide Bereavement UK and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. She has specialised in suicide bereavement research and support for over 20 years and is a recognised international leader in this field.

Prior to setting up Suicide Bereavement UK, between 1999 and 2016, Dr McDonnell led research at the Centre for Mental Health and Safety at the University of Manchester, an internationally recognised research centre with a major influence on UK policy and practice.  During this time, Sharon and her research team developed the ‘Postvention: Assisting those Bereaved by Suicide (PABBS)’ evidence-based training, informed by a four-year study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). PABBS training is first of its kind internationally and is being rolled-out UK-wide. Dr McDonnell is currently leading the National Suicide Bereavement Survey, a collaboration between the University of Manchester and Support After Suicide Partnership. It is the largest suicide bereavement survey internationally.


  • 2006   PhD:  Identifying the Experiences of Parents Bereaved by Suicide or Undetermined  Death (University of Manchester)
  • 1998   BSc:  1st Class Hons. in Psychology (University of Bolton)


  • Honorary Research Fellow, The University of Manchester
  • Winston Churchill Fellow (2013)
  • Member of the All Party Parliamentary Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Group
  • Member of the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) Specialist Interest Group, developing international postvention guidelines
  • Member of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA)
  • Member of the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP)
  • Volunteer at the Greater Manchester Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) group

Read more about Sharon

Sharon’s impact

  • Founded and hosts Suicide Bereavement UK’s annual International Suicide Bereavement Conference, attracting over 400 attendees from 15 countries.
  • Led the Postvention Assisting those Bereaved By Suicide (PABBS)’ research study at the University of Manchester Translated findings from the PABBS research study into evidence-based PABBS suicide bereavement training, the first of its kind internationally.
  • Provided expert testimony to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to inform the development of the guideline on preventing suicide in community and custodial settings (NICE, 2018).
  • Produced a research article from the PABBS study which informed the evidence-base for the NICE suicide prevention guideline (NICE 2018) PABBS suicide bereavement training is referenced by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Health Education England in their listing of ‘Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Training Programmes’ (PHE, 2016).
  • Research referenced in several parliamentary debates (Hansard 2012, 2015 and 2017) with Ministers being advised to read and consider Sharon’s views on how those bereaved by suicide should be cared for.
  • Member of the PHE advisory group involved in the revised handbook ‘Help is at Hand: Support After Someone May Have Died by Suicide’ (PHE, 2015).
  • Member of the advisory board for the National Suicide Prevention Alliance’s ‘Support after Suicide: A Guide to providing Local Services’ (NSPA, 2016) and their ‘Support After a Suicide: Evaluating Local Bereavement Support Services’ (NSPA, 2016).
  • Keynote speaker both nationally and internationally.

Sharon’s awards for public engagement and social responsibility in postvention

  • Investing in Success (2012), Awarded by the President of The University of Manchester.
  • Nominated (2015) to represent the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences in the Greater Manchester Clinical Trials Awards (Public Engagement category – runner up).
  • Volunteer of the Year (2018) in The University of Manchester’s Staff category (2nd place).
  • Several University of Manchester commended certificates (2015, 2016, 2018, 2020) for public engagement and social responsibility.