Professor Siobhan O’Neill

Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University

Professor Siobhan O’Neill is a Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University. Siobhan is also a Chartered Health Psychologist with expertise in qualitative and quantitative research into mental health and well-being.


Siobhan has worked as a Public Health Researcher, conducting evaluations of health services and users’ experience of care. Between 2005 and 2008 Siobhan, along with Professor Bunting and Dr Murphy, coordinated the largest ever study of mental health in Northern Ireland, the NI Research and Development Office funded, Northern Ireland Study of Health and Stress.


Siobhan is also a coordinator of the NI suicide study, the first UK study of the characteristics of completed suicides and undetermined deaths. She is responsible for the dissemination of the research findings on trauma and suicide to policy makers and stakeholders in Northern Ireland.


Siobhan is a member of the World Mental Health Survey Consortium, Director of the Irish Association of Suicidology and sits on several national and international research committees. She has over 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including several ground breaking studies of mental health and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland.


She also led the world mental health paper linking mental illness with the subsequent development of cancer.

Professor Rory O’Connor

Head of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory at Glasgow University

Professor Rory O’Connor, a native of Derry-Londonderry, completed his PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in 1997 and then moved to Scotland where he has been ever since, most recently as Professor of Psychology at University of Stirling. He joined the University of Glasgow in July 2013. He is a registered health psychologist who is broadly intererested in self-regulation processes and health outcomes. He is President of the International Academy for Suicide Research, UK National Representative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and a member of the American Association of Suicidology.


In 2014 he was elected as Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He also serves on the Scientific Review Board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is Associate Editor of Archives of Suicide Research and Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, serves on the editorial board of Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Psychology and Health, the Crisis Journal, the Open Access Journals Suicidology Online and Psychiatry Journal. He is a member of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology (and is an accredited Stage 2 health psychology supervisor) and the European Health Psychology Society. He also sits on the Chief Scientist Office’s Health Services and Population Research Grants Committee, and the Scottish Government’s national suicide and self-harm implementation and monitoring group. Rory was also a member of the Guideline Development Group for the NICE self-harm guidelines (longer term management).


Rory O’Connor leads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory at Glasgow, the leading suicide and self-harm research group in Scotland. The overarching aim of the research conducted within the group is to apply theoretical models derived from different areas of psychology (i.e., health, clinical, cognitive and social) as well as from the social and biomedical sciences more broadly to enhance our understanding of the aetiology and course of wellbeing and distress. Professor O’Connor is also particularly interested in the application of self-regulatory models across a range of physical (e.g., cardiac disease, multiple sclerosis) and mental health problems.

Barry McGale

Suicide Liaison Officer, Western Trust

Barry was appointed to the post of Suicide Awareness Co-ordinator in 1997 and was responsible for the implementation of the former Western Health and Social Services Board Suicide Prevention Strategy in the Foyle area. In Spring 2001, he was the Irish representative on the People to People Ambassador international delegation to Cuba to review mental health services. Barry was a 2004 nominee for the position of Director of the Prevention Division on the Board of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and was the International Representative on the Board of AAS 2006 -2008. He was appointed as a member of the Scottish Executive’s Research Expert Group on Suicidal Behaviour in 2004 and was a member of the Northern Ireland Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability subgroup on mental health promotion and suicide prevention.


Barry was a finalist in the RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year 2008 and recipient of the 2012 Florence Nightingale Travel Scholarship where he reviewed postvention services in Australia. He is currently a member of the Northern Ireland Suicide Strategy Implementation Body which oversees the Northern Ireland suicide prevention strategy, ‘Protect Life’. He has delivered presentations on suicide and suicidal behaviour both nationally and internationally. Previously, he was employed as a Development Officer with Mencap, and prior to this he was employed as a nurse with the Sperrin Lakeland Health & Social Care Trust specialising in Addictions. Barry is also a qualified Cognitive Therapist. Barry is a former Director of the Board of the Irish Association of Suicidology and a member of the American Association of Suicidology.


Formerly he was a director with the Irish Association of Suicidology and Vice-Chairperson of Youthlife, a voluntary organisation who provides services for young people who have experienced loss though separation, divorce or bereavement. In 2013, Barry was appointed to the Board of Members and the Executive Committee of The National Suicide Research Foundation (Ireland)

Gerry Raleigh

Director of the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP)

The NOSP was established to oversee the implementation of Reach Out the national strategy for action on the prevention of suicide.


Mr. Raleigh’s role will be to lead the work of the office which is now focused on how greater integration and cohesiveness can be brought to the sector. Prior to his appointment Mr. Raleigh’s previous roles include Director of St. John of Gods Services in Dublin West and Director of City Gate-a housing service for people who have accessed mental health services.

Mr. Raleigh has considerable experience in managing primary and community care services and has worked extensively in mental health and disabilities with a particular interest in working with NGO partners in the area of mental health promotion and suicide prevention. He has also managed Disability Services in the Midlands and Community Services in Laois/Offaly.


Mr. Raleigh is a trained Psychiatric Nurse and holds a B.A in Healthcare Management and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources.

Brendan Bonner

Head of Health & Social Wellbeing Improvement, Public Health Agency

Brendan Bonner is the PHA’s Head of Health & Social Wellbeing (West) and lead on Self Harm Registry project.


Brendan has worked in Public Health since 2002 and was involved in the initial consultation process on Protect Life in 2005/06. Brendan was the Public Health lead on the development of the suspected suicide real time data reporting initiative (SD1), the development of protocols to addressing suspected suicide clusters (Community Response Plans), the development of a community capacity initiative and quality assurance standards (CLEAR) and is currently working with agencies in the UK and Ireland on the mainstreaming of the SD1 and cluster response models.


Brendan has been co-author of a number peer review papers and publications on self-harm including, mental health of long-term unemployed males, characteristic of hospital treated intentional drug overdose, Hospital-treated deliberate self-harm in the western area of NI, the NI Registry of Self-harm annual reports and Six Year Review Report on Self-Harm in the Western Area and the supplement on Repetition Rates.


Brendan has also been involved in research into the impact of the smoking ban on the health of bar workers, Health Impact Assessment into a housing regeneration project, addressing road safety for rural school children as part of his wider Public Health remit.

Fergus Cumiskey

Managing Director, Contact

Fergus brings over thirty years innovation and leadership to his role as Managing Director with Contact, Northern Ireland’s leading counselling charity. Fergus and his Contact leadership team created the inaugural NI Department of Education funded independent schools counselling project for all NI post-primary school students (2006-09). As Contact’s then Clinical Director, he co-led the pilot 24/7 crisis helpline for North and West Belfast (2006- 08) which evolved as Lifeline 0808 808 8000 Northern Ireland’s crisis response helpline for people experiencing distress or despair, provided by Contact on behalf of the Public Health Agency (2008-15). Fergus chaired the NI Trauma Recovery Network (2004-2012). He completed 4 years Gestalt Psychotherapy training GTS (1994) and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy, London Gestalt Institute (2004).


In 2013 he completed an MSc in Executive Leadership with the University of Ulster/Irish Times Training Programme. Since 2010, Contact under the direction of Fergus and his senior staff, has organised a series of influential International Suicide Prevention- What Works? Conferences - securing leading academics and researchers in the field of suicide prevention.