Understanding LGBT+ Youth Suicide in Scotland

My PhD research has been my most significant research to date. Between 2017 and 2020 I spoke to twenty-four LGBT+ young people (aged 16-24) living all across Scotland about their experiences of suicidal distress. This is the first qualitative research on its kind in Scotland, as the majority of research in this area so far has been quantiative (meaning that it tries to accurately record the number of LGBT+ people who think about, feel or attempt suicide). We used these conversational interviews to go beyond the numbers and explore young people’s lived experiences with the hope of better understanding those experiences and how we can best provide support to reduce LGBT+ youth suicide in Scotland.

The PhD thesis is extremely long, but if you would like to read it you can access it here: but I am currently working on some shorter documents (some aimed at academics, some aimed at the general public) which I will upload as they are created!

Plain language summary (very short):

Short report:


I was lucky enough to be interviewed by the Death Studies Podcast about both my doctoral and my post-doctoral work. You can listen to the episode here:

I was interviewed along with colleagues Prof Sarah Waters and Dr Cathy Brennan about our articles in the the Journal of Public Mental Health’s special issue in suicide and self-harm. You can listen to the episode here:!08c5e

Self and Collective Care

I am one of the founding members of NetECR’s (Network of Early Career Researchers in Suicide and Self-harm) Collective Care group – we currently have monthly meet-ups for reflective practice and peer support. I am passionate about creating a caring and supportive community for suicide researchers, as well as all researchers working on emotional or sensitive topics – and have facilitated workshop sessions on this topic as part of students’ residential courses and the ESRC Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences summerschool. To accompany this I created a worksheet to promote reflection on the practices to support wellbeing whilst undertaking emotionally sensitive or emotionally demanding research. If this is something which you would find helpful, it can be downloaded here:

LGBT Suicide Timeline

The LGBT+ suicide timeline was created for my PhD and aimed to track developments both in LGBT+ history and in the history of suicide. Following a lot of interest on Twitter I have shared the timeline image with a number of people and it has been used in many high school classrooms. You are welcome to use, but please attribute it to me, and if you are inclined send me a picture of how you’ve used it, because I love seeing them!

So, what’s your PhD about?

Doing a PhD, particularly during a global pandemic, can be enormously isolating and therefore finding and feeling part of a PhD researcher community can be integral to the research process. The department that I completed my PhD in (the University of Glasgow’s SPHSU) offered a spring residential every year that I was studying, for all the department’s PhD researchers to come together and get some training. There were very few structured opportunities to get to know our peers throughout the year, and so when my friend Jessica Moran and I joined the residential communitee we decided to put together an activity to help all the PhD researchers get to know each other as an opening activity for the two-day residential. We ran it as a speed networking event where PhD researchers were assigned to groups on two or three, positioned in an outisde and an inside ring around the room – the inside moved, the outside stayed seated. Each time the inside ring moved the question changed (so for the first go, question 1; the second turn, question 2; and so on); each ‘turn’ should be between 3 and 5 minutes long (get someone to yell/sound a bell/wave a flag). It’s also useful to have as many questions as there are groups/pairs and to have proactively asked about people’s access needs so that they can be taken into account when doing the activity. We ran the activity two years running and got unanimously positive feedback for it both times. It’s also worth saying although we ran this BC (before Covid), we think it could just as easily be run via zoom. We’ve included our question sheet here and if you use it, let us know how you get on!

Proud City

In 2016 I was involved in the research from an Edinburgh Museums exhibition of LGBT+ lives in Edinburgh from 2006-2016. Although initially the exhibition was at the People’s Story Museum in Edinburgh, you can now see some of it online here.