Dr Sharon Mcdonnell BSc hons, PhD

Honorary Research Fellow

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  • Principle Investigator of a recently completed study which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Research for Patient. The study involved developing evidence-based theory-driven suicide bereavement training to guide health professionals how to respond to those bereaved by suicide.  The training will be made available spring 2016;
  • Principle Investigator of a national suicide bereavement study, due to commence, spring 2016; and
  • Member of a Expert Reference Group  currently developing a framework for those bereaved or affected by suicide in England.


Sharon specialises in suicide bereavement research.  She was employed by the Centre for Mental Health and Safety, University of Manchester from 1999 - March 2016.  Sharon is currently developing a social enterprise to provide evidence-based suicide bereavement training, which she developed with her research team at the University of Manchester. Sharon has a honorary contract with the university as she continues to have strong links with the department (conducting research, supervising PhD students etc).

Sharon was involved in the development of the Department of Health suicide bereavement handbook entitled ' Help is at Hand: A Resource for People Bereaved by Suicide and Traumatic Deaths' ((DH, 2006). This provides practical support and guidance for those bereaved by suicide.  Sharon was also a member of the advisory group which revised 'Help is at Hand' which was launched  September 2015 (PHE, 2015)

 Identifying Suicide Bereavement Researchers in the UK

Sharon is currently trying to identify individuals in the UK who are interested or specialise in suicide bereavement research.  She aims to create a database whereby researchers working in this field will be able to identify others with similar interests and also enable them to network, support one another and collaborate in this newly developing field.  For more information please contact sharon.j.mcdonnell@manchester.ac.uk

Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship

Sharon  received a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship in 2013.  The purpose of the award was to travel overseas to bring back knowledge and best practice for the benefits of others including professionals and communities. She visited Australia and New Zealand to identify good practice in the field of postvention andto  learn how similar services can be developed in the UK.

Research Interests

  • Development of evidence-based suicide bereavement training;
  • suicide prevention;
  • suicide bereavement;
  • online memorialisation;
  • suicide clusters;
  • provision of support for front line staff affected by suicide;
  • the development of postvention services;
  • multi-agency information sharing;
  • offender mental health;
  • ethical issues in mental health research.

Social responsibility

Development of a Social Enterprise

Sharon is currently in the process of developing a social enterprise which will provide evidence-based theory-driven suicide bereavement training. The development of this training was funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Research for Patient Benefit). The profits from the training will be reinvested to conduct suicide bereavement research.


Socal Responsibility Awards/Certificates


March 2016

Sharon received a University of Manchester commended 'Make a Difference Certificate for Social Responsibility for the second year running, for the following work:

  • organising the 2015 national suicide bereavement conference for a wider audience than just academics.


    November 2015

  • Sharon was shortlisted for a Greater Manchester National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) social engagement ward.


 June 2015

Sharon received a University of Manchester commended 'Make a Difference Certificate for Social Responsiblity'  for the following work:

  • Volunteer at a monthly suicide bereavement self help group;
  • Writes a suicide-bereavement blog which is relevant to those bereaved by suicide, clinicians and researchers (suicide-bereavement.co.uk); and
  • Organising the 2014 national annual suicide bereavement conference for a wider audience than just academics.




  • BSc Hons Psychology (First class honours)
  • PhD Psychiatry

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Member of the All Party Parliamentary Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Group;

Member of the International  Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) Special Interest Group on Suicide Postvention;

Member of the Suicide Bereavement Support Partnership (SBSP);

Member of the Manchester Self-Harm (MASH) Project Steering committee; and

A Winston Churchill Fellow (2013).


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