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When it is darkest: Understanding the psychology of suicide risk

Suicide is the most tragic of human outcomes. In this presentation, Professor O’Connor will draw from his book When It Is Darkest: Why People Die by Suicide and What We Can Do To Prevent It (Vermilion, 2021).



The aim of the book is to get to the heart of this phenomenon, challenging myths and misunderstandings as well as bringing together the personal and the professional. Additionally, Professor O’Connor will describe the Integrated Motivational–Volitional (IMV) Model of Suicidal Behaviour (O’Connor & Kirtley, 2018). The IMV model outlines the pathways to the emergence of suicidal ideation and the transition from suicidal thoughts to acts of suicide. This tripartite model maps the relationship between background factors and trigger events, and the development of suicidal ideation/intent through to suicidal behaviour. Crucially, the IMV model identifies clinical targets for treatment. As he has done in When It Is Darkest, Prof. O’Connor will present an overview of some of our clinical, experimental and intervention studies to illustrate how psychological, physiological and social factors increase suicide risk, and what we all can do to tackle suicide. He will also highlight the psychological evidence of what works to prevent suicidal behaviour. The wider implications for the prevention of suicide will also be discussed.


Keynote lecture will be delivered by Professor Rory O’Connor, Ph.D, FRSE, FAcSS, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and a Past President of the International Academy of Suicide Research.

About: Rory O’Connor Ph.D, FRSE, FAcSS, – is Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and a Past President of the International Academy of Suicide Research. Rory leads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab at Glasgow, one of the leading suicide/self-harm research groups internationally. He has published extensively in the field of suicide and self-harm. His research has been extensively cited, as evidenced by Rory being named in the 2022 ISI Highly Cited Researchers list, that ranks researchers in the top 1% for citations in their field. He is the recipient of several awards including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Research Award (2023). He is also co-author/editor of several books, including being author of the award-winning book When It is Darkest. Why People Die by Suicide and What We Can Do To Prevent It (2021). Rory is also a Trustee of and a Science Council member of MQ Mental Health Research and Trustee of James’ Place, the male suicide crisis service. He is also co-chair of the Academic Advisory Group for the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group.

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