Global fellowship supports UK researcher to expand suicide prevention research at Orygen

Global fellowship supports UK researcher to expand suicide prevention research at Orygen

3 March 2021

Global fellowship supports UK researcher to expand suicide prevention research at Orygen

Dr Maria Michail, lead of the suicide and self-harm research group at the Institute for Mental Health, University of Birmingham, will spend two years working with Orygen as part of a three-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Global Fellowship.

Dr Michail, who is expected to arrive at Orygen in February, 2022, said the fellowship would allow her to explore how systems modelling and simulation could inform strategic decision-making for suicide prevention in young people.

“Suicide is the second leading global cause of death among young people aged 15-29,” Dr Michail said. “Global and national suicide prevention strategies have been hampered by a lack of involvement of young people in the design of interventions, a lack of planning for the systematic uptake and implementation of these strategies in the real world, and because the current methodological approaches used to inform suicide prevention strategies have limited adequacy and accuracy.

“This fellowship will act as the catalyst for advancing my independence as a research leader by affording me the opportunity to train at an international research centre of excellence in youth mental health and suicide prevention.”

The fellowship will focus on the System Dynamics Modelling for Suicide Prevention (SEYMOUR) project, which seeks to efficiently and effectively guide the roll out of suicide prevention strategies through the use of systems science and system dynamics modelling.

“SEYMOUR will help us understand the complexity of the factors underlying suicidal behaviour in young people within complex health and social care services systems,” Dr Michail said.

“This is a computer-assisted method that helps frame, test and simulate the causal processes that underlie complex systems, such as the human brain, in order to inform policy decision-making. SEYMOUR will allow policy makers to experiment with, and optimise, different ‘what if’ scenarios to understand how the system works before implementing decisions in the real world.

“System dynamics modelling has been widely used in other sectors, such as business and finance, but its application in suicide prevention policy is still in its infancy. Through this fellowship, SEYMOUR will expand the European region’s capacity to respond rapidly and effectively to rising rates of youth suicide.”

Dr Michail’s fellowship will commence with a two-year placement at Orygen, supervised by Orygen’s head of suicide prevention research, Associate Professor Jo Robinson. During this time Dr Michail will also visit the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney where she will work in collaboration with Associate Professor Jo-An Occhipinti, head of systems modelling, simulation and data science, before returning to the University of Birmingham for the final year of the fellowship.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Global Fellowship is funded by Horizon 2020.