Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts: Suicide – Professor Rory O’Connor

Professor Rory O’Connor, Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, University of Glasgow

Background: Suicide and self-harm are major public health concerns with complex aetiologies which encompass a multifaceted array of risk and protective factors.  There is growing recognition that we need to move beyond psychiatric categories to further our understanding of the pathways to both. As an individual makes a decision to take their own life, an appreciation of the psychology of the suicidal mind is central to suicide prevention.  Another key challenge is that our understanding of the factors that determine behavioural enaction (i.e., which individuals with suicidal thoughts will act on these thoughts) is limited.  Although a comprehensive understanding of these determinants of suicidality requires an appreciation of biological, psychological and social perspectives, the focus in this podcast is primarily on the psychosocial determinants of self-harm and suicide. To this end, The Integrated Motivational–Volitional (IMV) Model of Suicidal Behaviour (O’Connor & Kirtley, 2018; O’Connor, 2011) is discussed; it provides a framework in which to understand suicide and self-harm.  This tripartite model maps the relationship between background factors and trigger events, and the development of suicidal ideation/intent through to suicidal behaviour.

In this podcast, we talk about a range of different topics including:

  • The epidemiological context. Suicide rates.
  • The myths around suicide and self-harm
  • The determinants of suicide and self-harm
  • The IMV model of suicidal behaviour
  • The implications for the prevention of suicide

O’Connor, R.C., Kirtley, O.J. (2018). The Integrated Motivational-Volitional Model of Suicidal Behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 373: 20170268.

Steve Platt’s work on inequalities and suicidal behaviour https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118903223.ch15


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