Professor Louis Appleby CBE

Photograph of Louis Appleby

Professor of Psychiatry C.B.E

Centre for Suicide Prevention

Community- Based Medicine
Jean McFarlane Building

The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL


Louis Appleby is National Director for Health and Criminal Justice and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester. He is Director of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness and an honorary consultant psychiatrist at the Manchester Mental Health Partnership.


Mental health and risk:

Suicide and self-harm; homicide and mental disorder; maternal mental health and its impact on children and families.

The Centre for Suicide Prevention (lead researcher Professor Nav Kapur) investigates people at risk of suicide, including patients under mental health care, people who have previously harmed themselves, prisoners and young men. The group has studied the events that precede suicide, asking: What are the factors that increase risk in a particular group? What protects some people but not others? When and how can services intervene to prevent suicide? In support of this work, the group has built up a national database of all suicides in the UK (now totalling 78,000 cases) and all episodes of self-harm in Manchester (now totalling 33,000 cases).

Other national studies have investigated the circumstances of sudden death on mental health wards, leading to recommendations on the role of physical health and smoking, psychiatric drug treatments, and aspects of care such as restraint. A national database of sudden death under mental health care has been established.

The Centre for Women's Mental Health Research (lead researcher Dr. Kathryn Abel) has studied the treatment of postnatal depression and the specialised care of severe maternal mental illness, through epidemiological, clinical and biological research. It is investigating the impact of maternal mental disorder on children and families, asking: Is there a high rate of illness and mortality in these children? If so, at what age and from what causes?

Both research centres have important international collaborations - in Hungary (suicide) and in Denmark (maternal mental health).


Louis Appleby graduated in Medicine in Edinburgh and subsequently trained in both hospital medicine and psychiatry, the latter at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. He has an MD from Edinburgh and is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of both Physicians and Psychiatrists. He has held research grants totalling £15.5m from the Wellcome Trust, MRC, Department of Health and other NHS sources.

Louis leads a group of over 30 researchers in two research centres. The Centre for Suicide Prevention is the largest suicide research unit internationally. Its findings have been the basis of Government policy on suicide prevention. For example, it has highlighted ways of improving safety on mental health wards - a 50% fall in inpatient suicide has followed. The Centre for Women's Mental Health Research is one of the leading research centres on maternal mental health, both contributing to and evaluating national policy. In 2000 Louis Appleby was seconded (part-time) as the Government's National Director for Mental Health to lead a national programme of reform in mental health care and in 2010 National Clinical Director for Health and Criminal Justice.  He leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England.  

Selected publications


  • Hawton, K., Townsend, E., Deeks, J., Appleby, L., Gunnell, D., Bennewith, O. & Cooper, J. (2001). Effects of paracetamol and salicylate legislation in the UK: opportunistic before and after study of suicide, liver transplantation, and self-poisoning and its consequences. BMJ, 322 (7296), 1203-1207. eScholarID:1d3588 | DOI:10.1136/bmj.322.7296.1203

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Research projects