15 Sep 2021

Investigating suicide attempts and life-threatening self-harm can further our understanding of the difficulties these women are experiencing and help inform future prevention strategies. Using data from multiple sources, including clinical records and qualitative interviews with women, friends and family members, this study aims to investigate the contextual factors surrounding these perinatal self-harm and suicide attempts, and the experiences and support needs of women and families.

Mother and  newborn baby in yellow sleepsuit

The Attempted Suicide in the PEriNatal Period (ASPEN) study explores the experiences of women who had a life-threatening attempted suicide during the perinatal period, and that of their partner, friends, or family members. This study is now open for recruitment.

We aim to interview 20-30 women who have had a life-threatening suicide attempt during the perinatal period, to understand their experiences and circumstances of the event, what healthcare was used, what support they needed and their views on suicide prevention. We will also interview friends, partners, or family members, nominated by the women, to understand their perspectives, views on prevention, and support following the suicide attempt.

The interviews will focus on women’s feelings about pregnancy and motherhood, factors in their life leading up to their attempted suicide, and their experiences of accessing support and healthcare following the attempted suicide. We will invite women to ask a significant other (partner, friend or family member) to also take part in an interview about their experiences and support needs.

Get involved

Recruitment for the ASPEN study is now open, and we are looking for volunteers to share their experiences. If you or someone you know has experienced a life-threatening suicide attempt during or in the year following pregnancy, please share this study or consider taking part.

You can complete the expression of interest form here or email the study team at Maternal-Mental-Health@kcl.ac.uk. Participants will be compensated for their time. We are also offering a debriefing session with a clinical psychologist after the study interviews, as we know that these issues can be hard to talk about. 

Potential benefits of the research

This research will enable us to better understand the factors surrounding near fatal self-harm and suicide attempts during the perinatal period. We hope the findings will inform strategies and recommendations to help identify women at risk of suicide during the perinatal period, improve the care and support of women and families receive, and ultimately prevent future self-harm admissions and suicide during the perinatal period.

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