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Dr Alexandra Pitman

Dr Alexandra Pitman

Associate Professor

Epidemiology & Applied Clinical Research

Division of Psychiatry

Joined UCL
1st Aug 2007

Research summary

I am interested in understanding risk factors for suicide attempt and in developing interventions to address them. I am currently working on the following areas:

•social and built environment influences on self-harm

•suicide attempt risk in vulnerable groups (people bereaved by suicide; people with cancer; LGBT youth; migrants; specific occupational groups; people who identify as lonely)

• suicide means restriction

My MRC-funded national survey of people bereaved by suicide, non-suicide unnatural causes, and sudden natural causes has given rise to a set of quantitative and qualitative publications describing the health and social impacts of sudden bereavement. This includes studies describing the increased risk of suicide attempt associated with suicide bereavement, the stigma of suicide, a perceived lack of support after suicide loss, and the influence of suicide loss on a bereaved person's own views about suicide. Findings are summarised here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/bereavementstudy/study-findings 

This research work was the basis for Finding the Words, a resource for people bereaved by suicide and for their relatives and friends: https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/resource/finding-the-words/

I have also been funded by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to investigate mediators of suicide risk after suicide bereavement. 

Together with Professor Sonia Johnson, I co-lead the UKRI-funded Loneliness & Social Isolation in Mental Health network. The work of this network is summarised here: 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/research/epidemiology/Loneliness-and-Social-Isolation 

Teaching summary

Teaching responsibilities: 

•Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

•2020 - present  UCL Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD programme in mental health science - Co-Director, steering committee member, Wellbeing Champion

•2018-2022 UCL MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences - lecturing on Current research in depression and anxiety module: Suicide & self-harm

•2014-2015 module leader for clinical mental health module - UCL MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences 

•teaching on UCL/Royal Free MRCPsych course (Epidemiology; Economic Evaluation;  Communication Skills; CASC teaching)

•teaching on UCL Medical School MBBS course (Introduction to Psychiatry; Depression; Eating Disorders; Affective Disorders; Suicide Awareness)

•lecturing at Birkbeck College: Health Policy and Health Promotion (course organiser & lecturer)

•lecturing at LSE: short course in Economic evaluation for public health clinicians and policy-makers

•lecturing at Imperial College Management School: International Fellowship Programme in Health Policy

Postgraduate supervision:

•PhD supervisor for NIHR Clinical Doctoral Fellowship scheme

•PhD supervisor for the NIHR School for Public Health Research PhD programme

•PhD supervisor for the ESRC PhD programme (UCL, Bloomsbury & East London Doctoral Training Partnership)

•PhD rotation supervisor for the UCL Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD programme in mental health science

•PhD supervisory panel for a co-funded McPin Foundation & ESRC Doctoral Training Programme Co-Funded & Collaborative Studentship 

•UCL MSc in Clinical Mental Health / Mental Health Sciences research project supervisor

•UCL MSc in Behaviour Change dissertation supervisor

•UCL MSc in Psychological Sciences dissertation supervisor

Undergraduate supervision:

•UCL BSc in Human Sciences dissertation supervisor

•UCL BASc Arts & Sciences dissertation supervisor

•UCL Medical School MBBS student projects supervisor

•ward/ED teaching in psychiatry for UCL Medical School MBBS students

Education

Royal College of Psychiatrists
Doctorate, Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists | 2007
University College London/Imperial College
Doctorate, Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery | 2003
London School of Economics and Political Science
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1998
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1995

Biography

Alexandra is an Associate Professor in General Adult Psychiatry in the UCL Division of Psychiatry and an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust. She gained her undergraduate degree in Human Sciences from the University of Oxford, her MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics, and her undergraduate medical degree at Imperial College. She completed her core training in psychiatry on the West London rotation, and her higher training in General Adult Psychiatry as a NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow on the North London/UCL rotation. Her PhD at UCL was funded by the Medical Research Council, and was followed by a MRC Centenary Early Career Award and a Guarantors of Brain post-doctoral fellowship. She is currently supported by grant funding from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the UKRI/ESRC, and the UCL Institute of Mental Health. Her clinical and research interests are the care of people who feel suicidal; the links between loneliness, social isolation and mental illness; and the prevention of suicide attempt. 


Co-Lead of the UKRI-funded Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health research network: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/research/epidemiology-and-applied-clinical-research-department/loneliness-and-social-isolation


Co-Director of the UCL Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD Programme in mental health science: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/mental-health/study/ucl-wellcome-4-year-phd-mental-health-science


Associate Editor, British Journal of Psychiatry: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry


Educational Supervisor, North London Central Higher Psychiatry General Adult and Older Adult Training Programme


Patron, Support After Suicide Partnership: https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/


Publications