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Researcher Colette Corry, who has been investigating Northern Ireland’s growing suicide rate, graduates with a PhD from the University of Ulster today.  

The Research Associate, who is based at Magee, has been tracing the link between suicidal thoughts and the act of suicide.  

“Unfortunately, suicide has become all too common in our society, and there are few of us who have not been affected either directly or indirectly by this tragic loss of life,” said Colette. 

“It is estimated that for every death by suicide, 16 suicide attempts will occur, further highlighting the need for continued research in this area.   

“Suicidal behaviour affects all sections of society, regardless of age, gender and social circumstances. Young adults remain particularly at risk, as do those with mental health disorders including substance abuse and dependence.  

“Current research suggests that older members of our communities are engaging in increased levels of suicidal behaviour, as well as those affected by the current economic climate. Identifying risk within such vulnerable groups will have a significant impact on the planning of appropriate interventions.   

“Geo-demographic analysis permits examination of clusters of behaviour within a given population and will have implications for policymakers in their future planning of resource allocation and service delivery.  

“Shifting the focus from ‘why’ to ‘where’ suicide is most prevalent will advance our understanding of the complexity of mental health issues experienced throughout society.”   

Colette’s ground-breaking study has also won a prestigious award from the British Psychological Society (BPS).  

The Portadown woman, who now lives in Derry, has scooped the Ranald MacDonald Prize for the best postgraduate thesis in the Mathematical, Statistical and Computing section from the BPS. 

She will present the findings of her study into rates of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland at their annual conference early next year.  

Professor Brendan Bunting, Director of the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at Ulster, said: “This award is further recognition of Colette’s excellent PhD thesis. Her research also formed the basis of a successful grant application to the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency, into geo-demographic factors associated with suicide and self-harm which Colette is now undertaking within the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Ulster.” 

A gallery of images from the 2010 Winter Graduation ceremonies can be viewed at: