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Student wins award for research on pharmacy suicide prevention

A PhD student from the University of Huddersfield has won a “prestigious” award for her research on how community pharmacies can contribute to preventing suicide, the university has announced.

The university said last week (May 11) that international student Somto Chike-Obuekwe from its department of pharmacy has won the Martin Lawlor Research Bursary Award.

Her award-winning research investigated how “community pharmacies can contribute to preventing suicide in low and middle-income countries”, with a focus on her home country of Nigeria, it added.

The “prestigious bursary” is conferred by Martin Lawlor’s family and supported by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) - the leading UK research programme into suicide prevention in clinical services - and mental health charity State of Mind Sport, it said.

 

Ground-breaking research

 

The judging panel noted that Ms Chike-Obuekwe is “the first researcher to consider the role of community pharmacy teams in suicide prevention in Nigeria, or indeed any low or middle-income country”, according to the University of Huddersfield.

She recently collaborated with global experts in suicide prevention and pharmacy to submit a symposium for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) on the role of pharmacy in suicide prevention, it said.

Read more: Online pharmacies: Coroner flags ‘lack of integrated records’ after patient ‘overdose’

She also co-authored a journal article with her PhD supervisors Dr Hayley Gorton and Dr Nicola Gray titled ‘Suicide Prevention in Nigeria: Can Community Pharmacists Have a Role?’ in 2022, it added.

The journal article reveals how low and middle-income countries (LMICs) including Nigeria account for more than three-quarters (77%) of global suicide mortality “with limited resources for its prevention”, it said.

Following her PhD, Ms Chike-Obuekwe hopes to be able to influence the Nigerian government and policymakers to improve the country’s suicide prevention strategy and include suicide prevention training in the pharmacy curriculum, it added.

 

Raising awareness

 

Nigerian national Ms Chike-Obuekwe will use the award to attend the 32nd World Congress by the IASP in Slovenia in September, the University of Huddersfield said.

She is “looking forward to presenting her findings on the contribution of community pharmacists in suicide prevention in Nigeria with delegates at the conference”, it added.

Read more: They’re back! C+D Awards officially return for 2023 with two new categories

“My research aims to raise awareness of suicide and prompt the training of pharmacists to become knowledgeable about suicide signs and its risk factors,” Ms Chike-Obuekwe said.

“Community pharmacists are one of the easily accessible health care professionals and are stationed in the heart of the community, so they have the advantage of encountering those with suicide ideation,” she added.

 

Martin Lawlor Research Bursary Award

 

The award supports “early career researchers” in the UK and Ireland to further their knowledge and “improve wider understanding of and practice in self-harm or suicide prevention”, the University of Huddersfield said.

It also provides these early career researchers with the opportunity to engage with other researchers in this field, it added.

Read more: Could you win a C+D Award? Top tips to make your entry sparkle

It was named after Dr Martin Lawlor, a consultant forensic psychiatrist who specialised in self-harm and suicide research and was a friend and colleague of the NCISH, it said.

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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