Dr Susan Rasmussen




Personal statement

I joined the School of Psychological Sciences and Health as a lecturer in September 2008, having previously worked as a Research Fellow at Stirling University (with Professor Rory O'Connor). I am a Chartered Psychologist and my research is in the area of Health Psychology. My work is characterised by an interdisciplinary focus (e.g., psychology, health services research, social policy, primary and secondary care, epidemiology) and aims to address key health issues; However, I focus primarily on suicide and self-harm. My main research interest is to understand how self-harm and suicidal thoughts and behaviour begin, why they might be repeated, and how we can eventually stop these. I am particularly interested in understanding the trajectory of these thoughts and behaviours and how this can influence help seeking. I focus on the application of theoretical models to enhance our understanding of the aetiology of suicidal behaviours and psychological well-being across the lifespan, but I am dedicated to examining these experiences for high-risk groups in particular (e.g., adolescents, older adults, and LGBTQ+). I have a track record of obtaining funding for this work (including Wellcome Trust, Chief Scientist Office, ESRC). I am a Centre for Health Policy Fellow in the Centre for Health Policy at Strathclyde University. I am also an affiliate member of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab at the University of Glasgow. My secondary interest is the understanding of vaccine hesitancy in high-risk groups including those who lived with a chronic health condition.

Back to staff profile

Area of Expertise

  • Public health psychology
  • Risk and protective factors for suicide and self-harm 
  • Cross-cultural studies of suicidal behaviour
  • Vaccination behaviour and vaccine hesitancy
  • Psychological aspects of infection prevention and control



BA Hons in Psychology (University of Strathclyde)

PhD in Health Psychology (University of Stirling)

PG Certificate in advanced academic studies (university of Strathclyde).

Professional memberships:

  • Registered with the Health Professions Council (CPsychol)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS).
  • Member of the International Academy for Suicide Research.
  • International Affiliate of the American Psychological Association.
  • Member of the American Association of Suicide.
  • Member of the British Psychological Society, Division of Health Psychology. 
  • Affiliate member of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, University of Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Affiliate member of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Lab, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA.
Back to staff profile


Examining mental health correlates of hate-motivated behaviour in Scotland : an investigation of victims, perpetrators, and victim-perpetrators
Russell Kirsten, Hunter Simon C, Post Abigail, Rasmussen Susan, Cramer Robert J
International Journal of Social Psychiatry (2024)
Predicting adherence to ankle-foot orthoses in people with stroke : an application of the theory of planned behaviour
McMonagle Christine, Rasmussen Susan, Rooney Robbie, Elliott Mark
Young people's coping strategies when dealing with their own and a friend's symptoms of poor mental health : a qualitative study
Pimenta Sofia M, Hunter Simon C, Rasmussen Susan, Cogan Nicola, Martin Bethany
Journal of Adolescent Research Vol 39, pp. 612-638 (2024)
A systematic review of the studies testing the integrated motivational-volitional model of suicidal behaviour
Souza Kenvil, Sosu Edward M, Thomson Scott, Rasmussen Susan
Health Psychology Review, pp. 1-25 (2024)
A psychometric evaluation of the life attitudes schedule-short form
Cramer Robert J, Nobles Matt R, Rooney Emily, Rasmussen Susan
Death Studies, pp. 1-10 (2024)
"It’s like an oak tree growing slowly across a barbed wire fence" : learning from traumatic experience of bereavement by suicide in later life
Hafford-Letchfield Trish, Hanna Jeffrey R, Grant Evan, Ryder-Davies Lesle, Cogan Nicola, Goodman Jolie, Rasmussen Susan
International Journal of Population Studies Vol 10, pp. 44-60 (2023)

More publications

Back to staff profile


I teach across the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum and I currently lead two undergraduate classes on individual differences and Introduction to Mental Health Difficulties. I am the Associate Dean Undergraduate for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and I am particularly interested in how we support our students' well-being. I run induction sessions for the incoming and continuing students on the faculty's BA degree, and I also contribute to open days.

Back to staff profile

Research Interests

I am a health psychologist with in interest in health behaviours. My primary research interest focusses on conducting research which will inform and create suicide prevention opportunities. The work includes the testing and adaptation of theoretical models of suicide with a focus on identifying unique suicide resilience and risk factors across diverse populations, and across the lifespan. My work specifically attempts to understand why someone might start to feel suicidal, when those thoughts are translated into suicidal behaviours, and to identify opportunities to stop these thoughts and behaviours. My second research interest is understanding the barriers and facilitators of vaccination behaviours, as well as behaviours during disease epidemics. This research has focussed on understanding the factors which impact key health protective behaviours such as handwashing, as well as to understand the psychological processes involved in individual decision making in relation to getting vaccinated against e.g. the flu or COVID-19.

Professional Activities

The Samaritans (External organisation)
NHS Health Research Authority Ethics Committee (External organisation)
Feeling Sad, Angry, or Scared: An Investigation of Gender Differences in the Regulation of Specific Emotions during an Emotion Regulation Task, and their Relationship with Mental Health
Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy (Journal)
Associate Editor
Public webinar: 'Improving Vaccine Uptake in Scotland: Implications for COVID-19, influenza and other adult vaccines.'
The consortium of European research on emotion

More professional activities


Insecure Employment and Suicide in Scotland
Rasmussen, Susan (Principal Investigator) Russell, Kirsten (Co-investigator) Cogan, Nicola (Co-investigator) Heap, Daniel (Research Co-investigator)
The aim of the project is to more fully understand the link between employment and financial instability and experiences of suicidal thinking and behaviour for people living in Scotland. In line with the tender, and as a result of adopting a mixed methods approach to the project we are proposing to focus our research questions on exploring what the links are between employment and

financial instability and, importantly, why these links exist. More specifically we wish to explore the following questions:

· What are the experiences of employment and financial instability in Scotland, and do those experiences link to suicidal thinking and behaviours?

· What are the temporal dynamics of the experiences of suicidal thinking and behaviours for individuals living in Scotland who experience employment and financial instability?

· Can we use the risk and protective variables specified by a key theory of suicidal thinking and behaviour to understand how employment and financial instability is linked to suicidal thinking and behaviours?
Stage-gate funds for Industry Engagement & Commercialisation support (stage 2)
Cogan, Nicola (Principal Investigator) Kirk, Alison (Principal Investigator) Rasmussen, Susan (Principal Investigator)
Awarded 10k funding from gate 2 industry engagement and commercialisation for development of Sentinel
01-Jan-2022 - 22-Jan-2023
Exploring Chinese international students’ understanding of loneliness to inform cultural adaptation of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
Liu, Xi (Principal Investigator) Anderson, Tony (Co-investigator) Cogan, Nicola (Co-investigator) Kelly, Stephen (Co-investigator) Rasmussen, Susan (Co-investigator) Tse, Dwight (Co-investigator)
31-Jan-2021 - 30-Jan-2022
Improving older adults' vaccination uptake: are existing measures of vaccine hesitancy valid and reliabe for older people?
Williams, Lynn (Principal Investigator) Brown Nicholls, Louise (Co-investigator) Cogan, Nicola (Co-investigator) Rasmussen, Susan (Co-investigator) Young, David (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2020
Psychological barriers to seasonal influenza vaccination uptake in those with chronic respiratory disease: A mixed methods study
Williams, Lynn (Principal Investigator) Cogan, Nicola (Co-investigator) Rasmussen, Susan (Co-investigator) Young, David (Co-investigator)
Psychological barriers to seasonal influenza vaccination uptake in those with chronic respiratory disease: A mixed methods study
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2020
Developing confident life stories about child bereavement: normalising and supporting bereavement experiences through storytelling and comics
Rasmussen, Susan (Principal Investigator) Nabizadeh, Golnar (Principal Investigator) Murphy, Christopher (Co-investigator) Jindal-Snape, Divya (Co-investigator) Herd, Damon (Co-investigator) Vaughan, Philip (Co-investigator) Paul, Sally (Co-investigator) Furnivall, Judith (Co-investigator) Vaswani, Nina (Co-investigator)
Total funding provided by SUII:£18,000.00

The programme explores the impact of bereavement on young people aged 12–18 years, supporting them to construct and represent their bereavement stories through the medium of comics. Bereavement is a common childhood experience: more than 75% of young people have experienced the death of someone close (Harrison & Harrington 2001) and this is higher for vulnerable children (Vaswani 2014). Bereavement may have short and long-term impacts on a child's wellbeing, including psychological health and educational achievement. Recent Scottish policy emphasises developing discourse and support around bereavement: yet, a culture of not talking about the issue remains (Knight et al 2000). Carers and professionals express a wish to support young people, but can lack the confidence or skills to do so (Paul 2016). Comics are an ideal medium for storytelling as the combination of image and text generates creative responses to physical and mental health issues (Squier & Marks 2014). The process of creating and reading comics helps generate confident life stories: a key component in building resilience (Bosticco & Thompson 2005). Programme outputs are designed to support professionals and carers to respond meaningfully and effectively to childhood bereavement, inform national policy on childhood bereavement, and normalise bereavement more broadly.
03-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2019

More projects

Back to staff profile


Dr Susan Rasmussen

Email: s.a.rasmussen@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 548 2575