In May this year I was supposed to be launching the full ‘Suicide Cultures’ project, which was awarded 5 years of funding by the Wellcome Trust. However, not long after the award was confirmed, the UK was hit by 3 weeks of industrial action, and during that time, the Covid-19 crisis rapidly developed. I returned to my office in Edinburgh on Tuesday 17th March, and that day all staff who could work from home were told to do so; all classes were paused that week; all subsequent classes were to be held online. I spent the afternoon setting my computer up to let me work remotely, threw as many books as I could carry into bags, and left.
There never seemed to be a good time to announce the good news about the grant; and as the situation with the pandemic continued to increase rapidly in seriousness and impact on lives and livelihoods, it became clear that the project itself would be significantly affected. In light of this, I shifted the start date – provisionally – to September 2020, to build in time to think, plan, reflect and prepare.
In this blog I wanted to start sketching out some of the different ways that the study of suicide, and in particular the Suicide Cultures project, might be shifted and shaped by the extraordinary circumstances we are currently living through.