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Name: Shane O’Donnell, BSc, MSc  

Research Theme: Men’s Health and Suicide Prevention 

Research Title: Creative Media as a Vehicle for the Reduction of Suicide Risk Among Men.

Research Interests: Men’s Health; Suicide Prevention; Mental Health Promotion; Community Empowerment; Social Determinants of Health.

Supervisors: Dr. Karen Galway, Mr. David Grant and Prof. Maria Lohan 


LinkedIn Profile: Click Here

Personal Bio:

My academic interest in men’s health was stimulated by my undergraduate degree in Sports Science (First Class Honours Degree).  I became particularly interested in the health behaviours of male athletes and how they conducted themselves in male-dominant environments. I grew increasingly aware of the gendered pattern of suicide and I began to reflect on how phrases such as ‘man up’ and ‘be a man’ were impacting on men’s mental health.  This led me to pursue a research based postgraduate degree in men’s health and suicide prevention at the Institute of Technology Carlow. I received an Irish Research Council Scholarship to explore the factors underpinning the high suicide rates among middle-age men at risk of marginalisation in the Republic of Ireland which I completed in December 2017. I published the results of my study in the Middle-Aged Men and Suicide Report which will be launched at the Men’s Health Symposium in Dublin in March 2018.

The innovative use of creative media to address male suicide was an idea that excited me which led me to my current PhD research at Queen’s University Belfast. I was awarded a Marie-Curie funded scholarship to conduct this research. Beyond QUB, I work on the Erasmus+ project ‘Sports Science Students as Mentors’ which aims to promote educational attainment among young boys and men through the mentoring of Sports Science students. I am also part of the management committee of the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland.


Project Summary:

Background: Northern Ireland (NI) has the highest suicide rate in the UKwith the male rate 3 times greater than the female rate. Men can be slow to access mental health support through traditional routes and the use of moving images art processes (MIAP) to support mental health such as film/video based expressive therapy, has been suggested, among others, as an effective alternative. Studies have shown that filmmaking for therapeutic use increased social skills, self-esteem an emotional expressiveness in preadolescent boys, acted as a focusing agent for individuals in therapy, and allowed audiences to ‘gain a new respect’ for psychotic patients. However, a dearth of evidence exists in the use of MIAP to specifically reduce suicide risk, particularly among men.

Key Research Questions: (i) What are the key issues that underpin the suicide risk of men in NI? (ii) What are the challenges, barriers and opportunities in using MIAP to reduce suicide risk in men?  (iii) Can an intervention be developed using MIAP to improve resilience and mental health literacy to reduce suicide risk in men? (iv) Can MIAP created by ‘at risk’ men change perceptions of help-seeking in other men?

Research Plan:  A three phased approach will be undertaken, drawing on the MRC guidance for developing complex intervention. Phase 1 (Jan’18 – Jan’19) will involve a systematic review of the relevant literature as well as gathering secondary and primary data from key stakeholders to inform the development of the intervention. Qualitative methodologies will be used with ‘at risk’ men and professionals in the fields of mental health promotion, suicide prevention and art care settings to ascertain this information. A constructivist grounded theory approach, comprising of simultaneous data collection and analysis, will be used to analyse the data.  Phase 2 (Feb’18 - Dec’18) will involve consolidation of the data to produce an intervention manual for pilot testing. This will be carried out in conjunction with key stakeholders from all sectors involving a target group of ‘at risk’ men. Phase 3 (Jan ’19 – Jan’20) will focus on pilot testing the intervention. 

My Perfect PhD Day

My perfect PhD day is when I leave the office feeling that my research might make have a positive impact for at least one person on this island.



Other Activites


When I’m not PhDing…

Enjoying the company of friends, family and keeping active.


Conferences & Publications:

O’Donnell, S., and Richardson, R. (2017). “Are Middle-Aged Men the Problem or the Symptom of a Problem?” European Public Health Conference, Stockholm, Sweden. November 3rd. 2017 (Poster)

O’Donnell, S. (2016). Active Future Programme – Why the Question is More Important than the Answer. Seminario MOVE Brasil, SESC Pompeii, Sao Paulo, Brazil. December 7th 2016 (Invited Speaker).

O’Donnell, S., and Richardson, N. (2016). Building Community Capacity to Prevent and Respond to Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour. A New Chapter: Healthy Ireland – Men’s Health Symposium, Dr Steevens Hospital, Dublin. November 30th, 2016 (Poster).

O’Donnell, S., and Richardson, N. (2016). Building Capacity in a Disadvantaged Rural Area to Engage Young Men. Health Promotion Conference – Knowledge to Action: Using Research in Health Promotion Policy and Practice, NUIG, Galway. 15th June, 2016 (Oral).

O’Donnell, S., and Richardson, N. (2016). Community Capacity Building: Engaging Young Men to Prevent and Respond to Suicidal Behaviour. European Symposium on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour, Auditorium, Oviedo, Spain. September 11th, 2016 (Oral).