Developing stakeholder-informed guidelines for acceptable and safe research into suicide.

Mark Robinson MRCVS PhD Scholarship 2020 - University of Manchester
Supervisors: Dr Sarah Peters, Dr Patricia Gooding, and Dr Donna Littlewood


Central to ethical research is that it does no harm. Yet, we do not know what this means for research involving people with experience of suicide thoughts and acts. Previous studies have found that taking part in suicide research is generally positive. However some people can experience a short dip in mood afterwards. We don’t know how taking part in suicide research affects people in the longer term or the best ways of supporting research participants. We want to learn what are the most acceptable and safe ways of asking people about their suicide experiences, from participants themselves.

The aims are to 1) assess, from the perspectives of people with lived experience of suicide, how acceptable the different ways researchers commonly study suicide are; 2) find out what the long-term impacts are of taking part in suicide research and 3) develop guidance for researchers on planning and doing safe research into suicide.

Four studies are planned. The first will be a review of the previous research in this area. The second will use a ‘think aloud’ design that explores people’s views of different types of research tools (e.g. questionnaires) whilst they are completing them. The third study will use questionnaires and interviews to monitor the long-term impact of taking part in research about suicide. The fourth study will gather the views from different groups who are involved in suicide research (including people with lived experience, researchers, and ethic committee members) to find out what they think makes suicide research acceptable and safe. These data will be used to develop a set of recommendations for best practice. We hope these studies will teach us how to make sure future suicide research is of high quality and safe.