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A Sociological Understanding of the Role of Social Relationship Perceptions in Suicide Risk

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, April 17, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Fatal suicides are increasing globally and WHO estimate that by 2030 the number of deaths will rise to over 1 million per year (2014). While the topic has escaped recent sociological scrutiny, it has become a significant field in psychology. Here cultural and social factors are acknowledged but studies focus on individualised behaviours and psychological risk markers such as self-harm and isolation. This study will provide key exploratory findings to inform understanding of cultural and social factors and how they relate to suicide acceptability.

Suicide acceptability is predictive of various suicidal behaviours and is understood as a moral attitude toward the justifiability of suicide combining personal attitudes with cultural norms. Cultural norms have been examined using generalised trust, a macro concept of trust in the people that co-habit a city or country, but who are unknown to an individual. This research offers a unique contribution in examining micro-concepts of trust: particularized meaning the trust a person has with their immediate (support) networks.

Using advanced quantitative methods, specically multi-level modelling, latent class analysis and a global dataset to explore the relationship between acceptability and different types of trust, the project will sociologically examine the interplay of micro and macro examples of trust through the lens of acceptability, and ask, ‘to what extent these can be considered a risk factor for suicide?’

The empirical work will use Latent Class Analysis (LCA) on global data from Wave 5, 6 and 7 of the World Values Study (WVS) to explore the relationship between suicide acceptability and different types of trust across 34 countries to identify distinct groups of “trusters”.

This project will explore whether the relationships between suicide acceptability and the different types of trust vary by national context. Further it will examine the strengths and limitations of using LCA to identify distinct groups of trusters across nations.

Funding Notes

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• A very good first degree (at least 2:1) in sociology or a cognate social science, which must include some quantitative research methods training; a mathematics or statistics degree will also be considered for 1+3 applicants if the candidate can also demonstrate some evidence of engagement or training in social sciences. Candidates must have either already obtained this degree, or be clearly on target to do so by June 2020.
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, statistical analytical methods and secondary data analysis
• Have a good grounding in quantitative research methods and have experience working independently with SPSS, Stata, or R
• Have awareness of and interest in mental health issues broadly and suicide risk specifically

Applicants must complete the Supervisor Led Awards Eligibility Checker before proceeding with their application:

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award Details:
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2020. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by Friday 24th April and interviews will take place on 11th May 2020. Interviews will be conducted via a platform such as Skype or Zoom to accommodate applicants outside of Glasgow.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Glasgow. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding. For 1+3 students, this will include an application to the MRes in Sociological Research Methods.

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