PhD Course: Understanding Suicidal Behaviour

When: 25.06.2018, at 10:00-17:00
Place: Tallinn University, A-346

Dear PhD students,

In the framework of Doctoral School of Behavioural, Social and Health Sciences You are warmly invited to participate in one-day course `Understanding Suicidal Behaviour`.

Course will be provided by Prof. Rory O´Connor from the University of Glasgow, Scotland

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on 25th of June 2018, from 10.00-17.00 in the Tallinn University´s room A-346 located on Narva mnt street 25.

Coffee breaks&lunch included

The aim of the course

  • To gain an appreciation of the complexity of the factors associated with suicide risk with a particular focus on the psychological aspects. 
  • To gain understanding of the psychosocial interventions to reduce risk of suicide


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. Recent approaches have conceptualised suicide as a (health) behaviour, such that an individual makes a decision to take their own life, therefore 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 presentation is primarily on the psychological determinants of self-harm and suicide.

To address these issues, I will describe the Integrated Motivational–Volitional (IMV) Model of Suicidal Behaviour (O’Connor, 2011) which derives from health, social and clinical psychological theory.  This tripartite model maps the relationship between background factors and trigger events, and the development of suicidal ideation/intent through to suicidal behaviour.  I will present a selection of clinical, experimental and intervention studies to illustrate how psychological factors increase suicide risk and what can be done to ameliorate such risk.  The implications for the prevention of self-harm and suicide will also be discussed.


Rory O’Connor PhD CPsychol AFBPsS FAcSS is Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, Past President of the International Academy of Suicide Research and a current Vice President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Rory leads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory (Web: www.suicideresearch.info; Twitter: @suicideresearch) at Glasgow, one of the leading suicide/self-harm research groups in the UK.  He has published extensively in the field of suicide and self-harm, specifically concerning the psychological processes which precipitate suicidal behaviour and self-harm.  In addition, he is author of Understanding Suicidal Behaviour (with Noel Sheehy), co-editor of The Routledge Major Works Series on Suicide (with Keith Hawton) and of the International Handbook of Suicide Prevention (2nd edition with Jane Pirkis).  He serves on the Scientific Review Board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Archives of Suicide Research and Associate Editor of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, and Behavior Therapy.  Rory acts as an advisor to a range of national and international organisations including national governments on the areas of suicide and self-harm.


  • All papers are available at www.suicideresearch.info; others should be in library
  • O'Connor, R.C., Kirtley, O.J. (in press). The Integrated Motivational-Volitional Model of Suicidal Behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
  • O'Connor, R.C., Nock, M.K. (2014).  The Psychology of Suicidal Behaviour.  Lancet Psychiatry, 1, 73-85.
  • Hawton, K., Saunders, KEA, & O’Connor, R.C. (2012). Self-harm and suicide in adolescents. The Lancet, 379, 2373-2382
  • Turecki G, Brent DA. Suicide and suicidal behaviour. Lancet. 2016; 387(10024): 1227-39.
  • O'Connor, R.C., Ferguson, E., Scott, F., Smyth, R., McDaid, D., Park, A., Beautrais, A., & Armitage, C.J. (2017).  A randomised controlled trial of a brief psychological intervention to reduce repetition of self-harm in patients admitted to hospital following a suicide attempt.  Lancet Psychiatry, Jun;4(6):451-460
  • Hawton et al. (2016).  Psychosocial interventions following self-harm in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry, 3, 740-750. 

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Supported by TU TEE - Tallinn University as a promoter of intelligent lifestyle

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