Research projects

Support for improving community-based care for self-harm

Lots of people using a pedestrian crossing.We have been commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to support 12 areas in England to improve community-based services and care for people who self-harm. Together with experts from the Manchester Self-Harm Project (MaSH) and NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC), we will support participating areas by providing:

  • Expert knowledge of current self-harm data and research;
  • Guidance on national guidelines and recommendations for the care of people who self-harm;
  • Advise on methods of data collection to monitor and evaluate the impact of service changes for people who self-harm;
  • An online resource to gather useful information in an easily accessible format.

This is part of a national programme funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement linked to establishing new and integrated models of primary and community mental health care across England. Read more about this collaboration here. This work is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) and funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Reducing suicides: Quality improvement and patient safety

We are working with experts in Quality Improvement at the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) to support Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to strengthen their local suicide prevention quality improvement plans. This is part of a nationally recognised suicide reduction priority across Department of Health, NHS England, and an overall Mental Health Five Year Forward View recommendation to reduce the suicide rate by 10% by 2020/21.

Together with NCCMH, we are working with Quality Improvement teams in each STP to:

  • review their services against established guidelines and recommendations, and improve the quality of care they offer, using bespoke data provided from the NCISH database, benchmarked against the national average;
  • provide expert knowledge of suicide prevention in three priority areas – mental health secondary care, services for self-harm, and middle-aged men;
  • identify and help STPs adopt and embed national evidence including NCISH “10 ways to improve patient safety” into local quality improvement plans;
  • advise on local data collection and suicide prevention plans.

Read more about this collaboration on NCCMH’s Suicide Prevention National Transformation Programme webpage. The study is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP).

In May 2019, NCISH were winners of a 2019 Making a Difference award for social responsibility.

Video iconClick here for a video explaining our work on suicide prevention.


Blog iconRead our March 2020 update on the national suicide prevention programme in this blog, by NCISH researchers Nicola Richards and Cathryn Rodway.

Blog iconRead a blog on our work with NCCMH to help local areas improve suicide prevention plans, by the NCISH project manager, Dr Pauline Turnbull.

Download iconDownload a summary of how we help local areas improve suicide prevention plans.


A diverse range of multifaceted, novel projects have been established throughout this programme. See some examples of innovative work being carried out by local areas in the programme.

National academic response to COVID-19 related suicide prevention

We have extended our national suicide prevention support role to include responding to local area’s concerns specific to the pandemic. Read more about our work here.

Blog iconRead a blog on NCISH’s contribution to suicide prevention during COVID-19, by NCISH researcher Nicola Richards.

Drug and alcohol services in the UK

Group sessionPeople with drug and alcohol problems and dependence are at increased risk of co-occurring mental illness and suicide. Over half of people who die by suicide who are in recent contact with mental health services have a history of alcohol or drug misuse. In the UK, drug and alcohol services were historically provided by the NHS alongside specialist mental health care. Following 10 years of NHS reforms they have been significantly reshaped, with third sector organisations playing a greater role. This has made national investigations of people in contact with drug and alcohol services potentially more challenging to complete.

This study will be working towards establishing a national investigation into deaths by suicide in drug and alcohol services in the UK. More specifically, we will be liaising with national data providers to developed a detailed technical proposal for data linkage, exploring data quality, and setting out specific risks, costs and timescales.

The study is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP).

As part of the work towards establishing this study, we are examining the changes to drug and alcohol services since the introduction of COVID-19-related social distancing measures in March 2020 in a short, confidential survey. We value your opinions and experiences and would be grateful if you could complete our survey.

Current collaborations and associated projects

We work collaboratively with national and international academic and health colleagues in the area of suicide prevention research. Our ongoing projects are listed below.

Suicide in former service personnel

This study, with the Ministry of Defence, aims to investigate suicide amongst those who have left the UK Armed Forces, and to make comparisons with serving personnel and the general population. The study will update our previous work from 2009, which showed although the overall rate of suicide was not greater than that in the general population, the risk of suicide in young men who had left the Armed Forces was 2-3 times higher than in the same age groups in the general population. Since this study was carried out there has been no systematic investigation of suicide in UK veterans.

The purpose of the study is to understand the rate, timing and risk factors for suicide for those who have left the UK Armed Forces between 1996 and 2018. The study will include the linkage of data from the Ministry of Defence on all suicide deaths in serving personnel and all personnel discharged from Armed Forces with NCISH data on general population and mental health patient suicides. It will also include a review of coroner’s records and inquest hearings for a sample of veteran suicide deaths. This study will provide more detail of the factors related to suicide (particularly early and recent vulnerabilities, in-service exposures, difficulties after discharge, living circumstances, and contact with a variety of health and third sector providers) in this population.

The study is funded jointly by the Ministry of Defence, NHS England and NHS Improvement. Further information on the study design and purpose can be found in our study summary and information sheet. 

Suicide Information Database Cymru (SID-Cymru) and NCISH database linkage study
This collaboration between the NCISH and SID-Cymru (hosted with the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Database) will link routinely collected data about all individuals in Wales who died by suicide between 2001 and 2015 with clinical data collected by the NCISH on patients in contact with mental health services within 12 months of their death.
Evaluation of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust Zero Suicide initiative
A two-year project working with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to evaluate their Zero Suicide initiative.

Video iconWatch a video of Professor Louis Appleby talking about the Zero Suicide initiative

Safety in marginalised groups
One of four research themes being undertaken by the NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre in collaboration with NCISH, to further explore suicide and self-harm by primary care patients.
The impact of suicide in the UK

A survey-based study conducted in collaboration with the Support after Suicide Partnership (SASP) to better understand the impact of suicide on people’s lives, including the support received.

All our research projects

More information on our research projects can be found within the University’s Research Explorer.