Reaching out to reduce self-harm and suicide

While self-harm and suicide in European and American populations are well researched and the risk factors understood, much less is known about these behaviours in South Asia, where rates are very high.

Bangor University’s Centre for Mental Health and Society has been awarded a prestigious Research Council UK Global Challenges Research Fund grant to work with colleagues in India and Pakistan to address these issues. The project will be equipping local researchers with the skills they need to develop long-term programmes to reduce death, disability and distress.  The Capability Grant award is a key component in the UK Aid strategy to grow both the research base in the UK and strengthen capacity overseas. The aim is to address research challenges which respond to the expressed needs of developing countries.

Professor Catherine Robinson, who will be leading the four-year project explained:

“The project will set up deliberate self-harm registers; conduct household surveys; and collect information from people whose lives have been affected by suicide and deliberate self-harm.

“The key to the project is to develop methods of doing all this in rigorous, sensitive and safe ways, creating a platform of new methods and skills that are relevant to South Asia. It will then be possible to address a range of important questions about social stress, help-seeking, and effective intervention. Armed with a greater understanding, we hope to inform public health plans and health service development, setting out an agenda for future research and using the findings to help high risk populations in the UK.”

Dr. Nasim Chaudhry, of the Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning, who are partners in the research commented:

“Deliberate self-harm and suicide remain punishable offences in Pakistan … Our work will not only provide robust evidence on their prevalence but also on what encourages people to seek help.”

Professor Ian Jones, Director of the National Centre for Mental Health, at Cardiff University commented:

 “This prestigious Research Council grant is a fantastic achievement for Professor Robinson and her team at the centre for Mental Health and Society and great news for mental health research in Wales. The work addresses the important issue of self harm and the devastating impact it can have on individuals and communities. I believe it will have a major impact, not just in South Asia, but also here in the UK."

Prof John G Hughes, Bangor University Vice-Chancellor said:

“I congratulate the team on winning such an important Research Council grant, which reflects the quality of our work. This is a prime example of the way that Bangor University research is both contributing to the research- base in Wales and making an impact around the world.”

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said:

“From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.

“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”  

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Publication date: 21 July 2017