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Group dynamics and suicidality: a Social Identity Approach to resilience and risk mitigation

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student


Suicide support organisations, such as Harmless and their clients currently face a ‘perfect storm’ of societal and economic challenges. Following the pandemic, the Cost of Living Crisis has added to the burden on many of those at risk of suicide as well as those who provide them support. For clients, increased financial pressures can corrode mental health, undermine family relationships and exacerbate loneliness; for support services, helping an increased number of clients cope with acute social and economic stress poses an additional layer of challenge.

Nottingham city is ranked 11th place of 317 districts in England on the government’s indices of deprivation, with 30.8% of the city’s neighbourhoods falling within the 10% of most deprived neighbourhoods nationally. In Nottinghamshire County, an additional 31 neighbourhoods fell within the 10% most deprived in England (Nottinghamshire Insight, 2019). This existing deprivation is important because socioeconomic deprivation is associated with increased suicide risk and prevalence of mental health distress.  Moreover, the city and county have recently reported slightly higher suicide rates than the national average (Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Suicide Prevention Strategy, 2019-2023).

This project adopts the Social Identity Approach to Health (SIAH) to consider how group dynamics may provide clients and services with greater levels of support and long-term resilience. While SIAH research demonstrates that family, friendship, community and therapeutic groups provide psychological resilience, little attention is paid to how these group dynamics can be harnessed to support individuals at risk of suicide during crisis as well as in their recovery afterwards.

This project has been co-created and is supported by researchers from Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and partners at Harmless. The successful candidate for this project would be enrolled at Nottingham Trent University.

Project Aims

The aim of this project is to use the SIAH to better understand factors contributing to risk and resilience among people vulnerable to suicide and to use this understanding to enhance the service delivery of Harmless.

Specific research questions include:

  • What are the socio-economic and group-level predictors of vulnerability, recovery and resilience among clients using a suicide prevention service?
  • How can understandings of these factors predicting vulnerability and recovery be proactively used to provide future resilience to suicide?
  • How can the understanding of group dynamics be used to support and enhance the therapeutic alliance between client and service provider at point of contact?
  • How can the understanding of socioeconomic precipitating factors and group resilience factors be used to improve Harmless’s longer-term social support services?
  • How can group dynamics also be used to reduce stress and provide enhanced resilience to service provider staff in their front-line roles?

Project Supervisors

What is Co(l)laboratory?

Co(l)laboratory is pioneering new programme supported by Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the Universities for Nottingham partnership. The programme aims to bring together researchers, community-focused organisations and local citizens to deliver meaningful change for the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. All our studentships have been developed through collaborations between academics and local, community-focused organisations to shape the research projects around the priorities of local communities.

Who are we looking for??

Co(l)laboratory aims to bridge the gap between academia and communities through a holistic programme of co-created research that actively engages with public groups. As we work to build a different way of doing PhD research, we need candidates who are socially conscious and invested in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire communities to join us. If you are an inspired individual with practical experience and a passion for creating positive change, Co(l)laboratory can help you elevate your knowledge and skills and make a lasting impact.

Entry qualifications

These PhDs are targeted towards students from non-traditional backgrounds and applicants do not necessarily need a first or 2.1 degree. Applications are open to local citizens, employees and practitioners.

How to apply

Applications to all Co(l)laboratory 2023 PhD studentships must be submitted through through our online applications portal HERE. This also applies to Co(l)laboratory studentships which are hosted at the University of Nottingham. Applications open at 12pm on Thursday 22nd December 2023 and close at 12pm on Monday 6th February 2023.

Fees and funding

This is a funded PhD project for UK applicants.

Guidance and support

For more information on Co(l)laboratory PhD studentships, contact Alex Nkrumah at

Still need help?

Alex Nkrumah