From its beginnings, PAPYRUS has underpinned its messages with academic research wherever possible. We support research which helps us achieve our current aims and work with leading academcis in the field of suicide prevention to ensure that what we say and offer has a sound evidence base.


Exploring Internet Use in relation to suicidal behaviour: identifying priorities for prevention

Research Lead: Dr Lucy Biddle (Bristol University)

PAPYRUS is on the advisory group for this research project. The study, funded by the Department of Health as part of their programme of research to inform the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, will explore how people with suicidal feelings use the Internet and the impact of this on suicidal behaviour. It will provide scientific evidence about: how, why, and when people who are feeling suicidal use suicide-related internet content; how common this is; the characteristics of people more likely to use the Internet; the range of suicide-related content (including support materials); and how this is interpreted and used.

The research is essential because of mounting concern that the Internet can promote suicide. A key challenge for suicide prevention is to deal with harmful content, while capitalising upon the Internet's possibilities for support and preventing suicide. There is currently insufficient evidence available to meet this challenge.

The research has three parts:

1) Statistical analysis of two existing datasets with data on suicide and Internet use: patients presenting at hospital following self-harm (clinical sample) and a longitudinal study of young people (community sample)

2) In-depth interviews with a wide range of individuals through several samples who have used the Internet for suicide related purposes, and with relatives of people who have died from an Internet-related suicide. Interviews will seek to understand issues from the point of view of those with lived experience.

3) Focus group discussion with clinicians who have explored patients' Internet use.

The research will provide the evidence necessary to develop regulation, policy, and best practice, influence the Internet industry, develop online support and prevention approaches, and assist clinicians in supporting patients.

PAPYRUS members and friends are invited to help with part 2 of the study. The researchers and the advisory group would like to hear from those who have been affected by a suicide where the suicide-related internet content may have played a part.

More information:

e-mail PAPYRUS Internet Campaign Lead, Martyn Piper or tel: 01925 572444

CHERISH - examining social and psychological determinants of suicide clusters

Research Lead: Dr Ann John

Clinical Associate Professor in Public Mental Health, Consultant in Public Health (Public Health Wales), College of Medicine, Swansea University

PAPYRUS is supporting and advising on a study led by Dr Ann John from Swansea University. Ann is also the Chair of the Welsh Government Suicide Prevention Advisory Group of which PAPYRUS is an active participant.

Our understanding of the social and psychological determinants of suicide clusters is limited, with none of the cross-discipline theories proposed having been tested via in-depth research on an actual cluster. This research will explore the factors and mechanisms that trigger a suicide cluster, cause it to continue and then eventually subside.

The study uses mixed methods. People from the Bridgend area who presented to the local emergency department (ED) with ‘near fatal’ self-harm at the time of the apparent suicide cluster in 2007-8 will be interviewed to explore:

  • the social and psychological causes of self-harm during an apparent cluster
  • how individuals understand their own behaviour

Questions will be asked in relation to social circumstances, family history, childhood development, drug and alcohol use, life events, size and character of primary support group, the media, links to other cases, identification with cluster cases and interviewees’ own thoughts about cluster initiation and propagation. Interviews will analysed thematically. Routinely available anonymised data on all those who presented during the cluster to the local ED with any mention of non-fatal self-harm will also be investigated. The study will help inform the development of appropriate policy to respond to suicide clusters at an early stage.

Young People’s Use of Social Media in the Aftermath of Youth Suicide

Research Lead: Professor Jonathan Scourfield, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

PAPYRUS is on the advisory group for this research project. The study, funded by the Department of Health as part of their programme of research to inform the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, will use the Cardiff Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS) to collect and explore social media communication (especially via Twitter and Facebook) and will compare how social media communication is used following suicides and traffic accidents in young people aged 18 or under.

In particular attention will be paid to:

  • the frequency of such communication
  • what sentiments are expressed
  • any social networks revealed by social media contacts

Online Suicide Memorials: Meaning Making, Making Sense, and Managing Trauma

Research team: Dr Jo Bell and Dr David Kennedy (Univeristy of Hull)

PAPYRUS is supporting this research project which is looking specifically at suicide memorialisation on the internet. The study will investigate how the internet is changing the experiences of those whose lives are affected by suicide. It will explore how health practitioners can positively engage with the online environment to support those whose lives are affected by suicide.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the study has been approved by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Ethics Committee at The University of Hull.

The research involves face-to-face interviews with owners of suicide memorial sites and examines perceived benefits of these sites as well as wider implications for understanding suicide grief and the role that the internet can play in that.

The research team is very interested to hear from anyone with experience of setting up their own websites in memory of loved ones who have died by suicide.

More information for PAPYRUS members and friends:

Dr Bell, School of Social Sciences, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX

e-mail or tel: 01482 466304