Derry suicide study to tell carers’ stories

Dr Columba McLaughlin, who is the lead researcher on the Magee based project into the needs of carers of people who contemplate suicide
Dr Columba McLaughlin, who is the lead researcher on the Magee based project into the needs of carers of people who contemplate suicide

People in Derry who care for someone with suicidal thoughts are being asked to take part in a new project that could improve services for carers.

Dr Columba McLaughlin, lead researcher on the Magee based project, says it is vital carers come forward and tell their story because “so little is known” about their needs.

He says while the public is aware of the increase in the incidence of suicide, much less is known about the challenges faced by carers.

“Statistics don’t show the impact suicidal behaviour can have on the person’s family and friends and, apart from some anecdotal evidence, very little is known about what it is really like to be a carer for someone with suicidal thoughts.

“They may need emotional or educational support or a more practical kind of help but because so little is known about the needs of carers, support from service providers is not currently targeted towards them.”

Dr McLaughlin says the stories of Derry’s carers could could shape the future level of support for people caring for someone who is suicidal.

“We would like to hear from people who have had experience of caring for someone with suicidal thoughts and who would be willing to be part of this in-depth research study.

“Their experiences could help inform future services providers about the needs of carers and the level of support they require.

“We are looking for adult volunteers who are currently, or have been, caring for someone who has either made an attempt to end their life or has expressed a desire to do so. Volunteers should not personally be in contact with healthcare services for a mental health issue at this time.”

Dr McLaughlin stressed that all participants in the study would be assured of total anonymity and confidentiality and, if needed, confidential counselling would be made available for participants.

The University of Ulster research is to be carried out by in Derry by the Schools of Nursing and Psychology in association with the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Well-being at the University’s Magee campus.

If you are interested in participating in the research, please contact Dr. McLaughlin in confidence by email c.mclaughlin@ulster.ac.uk or by telephone 02871375041.