Becky Mars

Becky Mars
University of Bristol | UB · School of Social and Community Medicine

PhD

About

81
Publications
15,963
Reads
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1,930
Citations
Citations since 2017
57 Research Items
1700 Citations
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Introduction
I am a Senior Research Associate at the School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, and an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Post-doctoral fellow. My research interests include the epidemiology and course of self-harm and suicidal behaviours. My current research is exploring transitions between suicidal thoughts/non-suicidal self-harm and suicide attempts using data from the ALSPAC birth cohort.
Additional affiliations
January 2016 - present
University of Bristol
Position
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention post-doctoral Fellow
October 2015 - present
University of Bristol
Position
  • Course organiser - Introduction to Stata
November 2013 - present
University of Bristol
Position
  • Undergraduate tutor- Clinical Epidemiology
Education
October 2009 - October 2012
Cardiff University
Field of study
September 2002 - July 2006
Cardiff University
Field of study
  • Applied Psychology

Publications

Publications (81)
Article
Full-text available
Background: Emotional dysregulation may be a risk factor for disordered eating and self-harm in young people, but few prospective studies have assessed these associations long-term, or considered potential mediators. We examined prospective relationships between childhood emotional dysregulation and disordered eating and self-harm in adolescence;...
Preprint
BACKGROUND The positive and negative effects of interacting with online content on mental health and especially self-harm, are well documented. Lived experience stories are one such type of static online content, frequently published on healthcare or third sector organization websites, as well as social media and blogs, as a form of support for tho...
Article
Background: The positive and negative effects of interacting with web-based content on mental health, and especially self-harm, are well documented. Lived experience stories are one such type of static web-based content, frequently published on health care or third-sector organization websites, as well as social media and blogs, as a form of suppo...
Article
This data note describes the linking of records of the Bristol Self Harm Register with the cohort of the index children of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC – also known as ‘Children of the 90s’). These records were obtained from the computerised data base maintained by the Bristol Self Harm Register (BSHR). The BSHR is op...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ and multiple school closures disrupted the daily lives and routines of the entire UK population. However, adolescents were likely particularly impacted by such measures due to this time being key for social and educational development. This qualitative study explored young people’s experiences of lockdowns and school closure...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose There is growing interest in the concept of ‘deaths of despair’ (DoD)—defined as deaths from three causes: suicide, drug poisoning, and alcohol-related conditions—as a more comprehensive indicator of the impact of psychological distress on mortality. The purpose of this study is to investigate the degree of commonality in trends and geograp...
Article
Full-text available
School closures and social distancing measures during the pandemic have disrupted young people’s daily routines and social relationships. We explored patterns of change in adolescent mental health and tested the relationship between pre-pandemic levels of school and peer connectedness and changes in mental health and well-being between the first lo...
Article
Background: Suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STB) constitute a central public health concern in adolescence. Previous studies emphasized the difficulty to cope with negative life events during adolescence as a risk factor for STB. Familial and genetic liability has also been documented to explain STB risk. Nevertheless, less is known about aggrega...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Emotional dysregulation may be a risk factor for disordered eating and self-harm in young people, but few prospective studies have assessed these associations long-term, or considered potential mediators. We examined prospective relationships between childhood emotional dysregulation and disordered eating and self-harm in adolescence; an...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence on how different types of social media use contribute to digital stress in early adolescence is lacking. In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 13–14-year-olds. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded and thematically analysed. Themes were generated based on digital stressors specific to passive social media use (time-wasting and d...
Article
Full-text available
There is mixed evidence as to the effects of different types of social media use on mental health, but previous research has been platform‐specific and has focused on an oversimplified distinction between active and passive use. This study aimed to identify different underlying subgroups of adolescent social media user based on their pattern of soc...
Preprint
Evidence on how different types of social media use contribute to digital stress in early adolescence is lacking. In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-four 13-14-year-olds. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded and thematically analysed. Themes were generated based on digital stressors specific to passive social media use (time-wast...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Anxiety disorders are common. Between 1998 and 2008, in the UK, GP recording of anxiety symptoms increased, but the recording of anxiety disorders decreased. We do not know whether such trends have continued. This study examined recent trends in the recording of anxiety and explored factors that may influence GPs’ coding of anxiety. Method...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Little is known about trends in prescribing of anxiolytics (antidepressants, benzodiazepines, beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics) for treatment of anxiety. Several changes may have affected prescribing in recent years, including changes in clinical guidance. Aim: To examine trends in prescribing for anxiety in UK prim...
Article
Full-text available
Background Young adults and especially those with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as disordered eating and self-harm, appear to be at greater risk of developing metal health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is unclear whether this increased risk is affected by any changes in lockdown restrictions, and whether any lifes...
Article
Full-text available
Background The COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, and social distancing measures have disrupted young people's daily routines, learning, and social relationships. We examine the changes in adolescent mental health over time and explore the relationship between how connected students felt to their school and peers before the pandemic and how this a...
Preprint
Background There is mixed evidence as to the effects of different types of social media use on mental health, but previous research has been platform-specific and has focused on an oversimplified distinction between active and passive use. This study aimed to identify different underlying subgroups of adolescent social media user based on their pat...
Article
Full-text available
Background Connectedness to family and peers is a key determinant of adolescent mental health. Existing research examining associations between social media use and social connectedness has been largely quantitative and has focused primarily on loneliness, or on specific aspects of peer relationships. In this qualitative study we use the displaceme...
Conference Paper
Background Connectedness to school, family and peers is a key determinant of adolescent mental health. The relationship between social media use (SMU) and social connectedness is complex, potentially improving closeness to peers, whilst possibly diminishing school connectedness. Evidence to date has been piecemeal and contradictory with particular...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Research has identified functions of non-suicidal self-harm/self-injury (NSSH) but whether functions change over time, from adolescence to early adulthood, or predict the continuation of the behavior prospectively remains unclear. This study aimed to prospectively explore whether intrapersonal and interpersonal NSSH functions in adolesc...
Article
An emerging body of international research suggests family caregivers may be a high-risk group for suicide, but the evidence has not been synthesised. Forty-eight peer-reviewed journal articles were included in this review, spanning low-, middle-, and high-income countries and a variety of illnesses and disabilities. The proportion of caregivers ex...
Article
Full-text available
Aims Self-harm and eating disorders are often comorbid in clinical samples but their co-occurrence in the general population is unclear. Given that only a small proportion of individuals who self-harm or have disordered eating present to clinical services, and that both self-harm and eating disorders are associated with substantial morbidity and mo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Young adults and especially those with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as disordered eating and self-harm, appear to be at greater risk of developing metal health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is unclear whether this increased risk is affected by any changes in lockdown restrictions, and whether any lifes...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Empirical evidence supporting the distinction between suicide attempt (SA) and non-suicidal self-harm (NSSH) is lacking. Although NSSH is a risk factor for SA, we do not currently know whether these behaviours lie on a continuum of severity, or whether they are discrete outcomes with different aetiologies. We conducted this exploratory...
Article
Full-text available
Background The occurrence of early childhood adversity is strongly linked to later self-harm, but there is poor understanding of how this distal risk factor might influence later behaviours. One possible mechanism is through an earlier onset of puberty in children exposed to adversity, since early puberty is associated with an increased risk of ado...
Article
Full-text available
Background Self-harm and eating disorders are often comorbid in clinical samples but their co-occurrence in the general population is unclear. Given that only a small proportion of individuals who self-harm or have disordered eating present to clinical services, and that both self-harm and eating disorders are associated with substantial morbidity...
Article
Background Previous research suggests that comorbid personality disorder may be associated with a less favourable treatment outcome for individuals with depression and anxiety disorder. However, little is known about whether personality difficulties are associated with treatment outcomes within Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) ser...
Article
Full-text available
Aims. Early puberty is associated with an increased risk of self-harm in adolescent females but results for males are inconsistent. This may be due to the use of subjective measures of puber- tal timing, which may be biased. There is also limited evidence for the persistence of pubertal timing effects beyond adolescence, particularly in males. The...
Article
Background: We aimed to identify groups of children presenting distinct perinatal adversity profiles and test the association between profiles and later risk of suicide attempt. Methods: Data were from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD, N = 1623), and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC, N = 5734)....
Article
Background Biological markers of suicide risk have the potential to inform prevention and treatment efforts. It has recently been hypothesised that inflammation may influence mood and in turn suicide risk. We investigated the association between indicators of systemic inflammation and suicide in a large cohort of Taiwanese adults. Methods White bl...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Most of the evidence on the effects of internet use on mental health derives from cross-sectional research. We set out to explore prospective associations between internet use (hours online and specific internet experiences) and future mental health problems. Methods Participants were 1,431 respondents from the Avon Longitudinal Study o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Self-harm and eating disorders are often comorbid in clinical samples but their co-occurrence in the general population is unclear. We assessed the co-occurrence of self-harm and disordered eating behaviours at age 16 and 24 years in 3384 females and 2326 males from a UK population-based cohort. There was substantial overlap at both time points: al...
Article
Full-text available
Background The causal role of inflammatory markers on self-harm and suicidal risk has been studied using observational data, with conflicting results. Confounding and reverse causation can lead to bias, so we appraised question from a genetic perspective to protect against these biases. We measured associations between genetic liability for high le...
Article
Background: There is growing evidence to suggest that ambulance service staff may be at increased risk for suicide; however, few studies have explored risk factors within this occupational group. Aim: To investigate factors commonly associated with ambulance staff suicides. Method: Eleven ambulance service trusts across the United Kingdom were...
Article
Full-text available
Background There are few population-based cohort studies of the emergence, development, and persistence of mental health problems in sexual minorities compared with heterosexuals. We compared trajectories of depressive symptoms in sexual-minority adolescents and heterosexual adolescents from when they were aged 10 to 21 years, and examined self-har...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous studies of pubertal timing and self-harm are limited by subjective measures of pubertal timing or by the conflation of self-harm with suicide attempts and ideation. The current study investigates the association between an objective measure of pubertal timing – age at menarche – and self-harm with and without suicidal intent in...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Treatment and prevention guidelines highlight the key role of health information and evidence-based psychosocial interventions for adolescent depression. Digital health technologies and psychoeducational interventions have been recommended to help engage young people, provide accurate health information, enhance self-management skills an...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Treatment and prevention guidelines highlight the key role of health information and evidence-based psychosocial interventions for adolescent depression. Digital health technologies and psychoeducational interventions have been recommended to help engage young people and to provide accurate health information, enhance self-management s...
Article
Full-text available
Previous cohort studies have observed higher birth order to be associated with increased risk of suicidal behaviour. However, the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we used multivariable logistic regression models and mediation analysis to investigate the...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as physical and emotional abuse are strongly associated with self-harm, but mechanisms underlying this relationship are unclear. Inflammation has been linked to both the experience of ACEs and self-harm or suicide in prior research. This is the first study to examine whether inflammatory marker...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Suicidal thoughts and non-suicidal self-harm are common in adolescents and are strongly associated with suicide attempts. We aimed to identify predictors of future suicide attempts in these high-risk groups. Methods: Participants were from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a population-based birth cohort study in t...
Data
Table S1. Comparison of responders and non‐responders to the self‐harm questionnaire at 16 years by key demographic variables. Table S2. Descriptive table for risk factors. Table S3. Multinomial logit model investigating associations between risk factors and adolescent suicidal thoughts and attempts. Table S4a. Comparison of complete case and im...
Article
Background In 2015, Ambulance Service Medical Directors raised concerns regarding a perceived increase in suicide deaths among ambulance service staff. The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) then commissioned a research study to investigate these concerns and provide recommendations towards a suicide prevention strategy. The aim of th...
Article
Background: There are few population-based cohort studies of the emergence, development, and persistence of mental health problems in sexual minorities compared with heterosexuals. We compared trajectories of depressive symptoms in sexual-minority adolescents and heterosexual adolescents from when they were aged 10 years to 21 years, and examined...
Article
Full-text available
Background Only one‐third of young people who experience suicidal ideation attempt suicide. It is important to identify factors which differentiate those who attempt suicide from those who experience suicidal ideation but do not act on these thoughts. Methods Participants were 4,772 members of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (A...
Article
Full-text available
Objective To examine the hypothesis that ASD diagnosis and traits in childhood are associated with suicidal thoughts, plans and self-harm at 16 years, and that any observed associations are explained by depression at 12 years. Method We examined associations between ASD diagnosis and four dichotomised ASD traits (social communication, pragmatic la...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Depression is common in adolescence and leads to distress and impairment in individuals, families and carers. Treatment and prevention guidelines highlight the key role of information and evidence-based psychosocial interventions not only for individuals but also for their families and carers. Engaging young people in prevention and ea...
Preprint
Importance There have been recent concerns about a higher incidence of mortality by suicide in people with a utism spectrum disorder (ASD). To our knowledge, no large cohort studies have examined which features of autism may lead to suicidal ideation and behaviour, and whether there are any potential modifiable mechanisms. Objective To examine the...
Article
Full-text available
Background The impact of underlying parental psychological vulnerability on the future mental health of offspring is not fully understood. Using a prospective cohort design, we investigated the association between dysfunctional parental personality traits and risks of offspring self-harm, depression and anxiety. Methods The association between dys...
Article
Full-text available
PurposeThe number of antidepressants prescribed in the UK has been increasing over the last 25 years; however, the reasons for this are not clear. This study examined trends in antidepressant prescribing in the UK between 1995 and 2011 according to age, sex, and drug class, and investigated reasons for the increase in prescribing over this period....
Article
Objective: Non-response to antidepressant treatment is a substantial problem in primary care, and many patients with depression require additional second-line treatments. This study aimed to examine the prevalence and patterns of antidepressant switching in the UK, and identify associated demographic and clinical factors. Method: Cohort analysis...
Article
Adolescent offspring of depressed parents are at particularly heightened risk of developing early onset Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) yet are unlikely to access services. We therefore aimed to identify a parsimonious combination of parent-reported symptoms that accurately detected offspring MDD. We used a multi-sample study comprising a developme...
Article
Psychotic experiences in young people are substantially more common than psychotic disorders, and are associated with distress and functional impairment. Family history of depression as well as of schizophrenia increases risk for psychotic experiences, but the prevalence of such experiences and their clinical relevance in offspring of depressed par...
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this study was to examine agreement between self-reported and medically recorded self-harm, and investigate whether the prevalence of self-harm differs in questionnaire responders vs. non-responders. A total of 4,810 participants from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) completed a self-harm questionnaire a...
Article
Background: Following the ongoing concerns about cyber-suicide, we investigate changes between 2007 and 2014 in material likely to be accessed by suicidal individuals searching for methods of suicide. Methods: 12 search terms relating to suicide methods were applied to four search engines and the top ten hits from each were categorised and analy...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous research has suggested that deliberate self-harm is associated with contemporary goth subculture in young people; however, whether this association is confounded by characteristics of young people, their families, and their circumstances is unclear. We aimed to test whether self-identification as a goth is prospectively associat...
Data
Lucy Bowes and Niall Boyce discuss the association between goth subculture identification, depression, and self-harm
Article
Whilst psychotic experiences are associated with suicidal behaviour in a number of studies the value of psychotic experiences for the prediction of suicidal behaviour and the role of depressive symptoms in this relationship is not clear. We examined the association between psychotic experiences and subsequent suicidal behaviour and examine the role...
Article
Full-text available
Depression is common, especially in women of child-bearing age; prevalence estimates for this group range from 8% to 12%, and there is robust evidence that maternal depression is associated with mental health problems in offspring. Suicidal behaviour is a growing concern amongst young people and those exposed to maternal depression are likely to be...
Article
Full-text available
Background: There is concern over the potential impact of the Internet on self-harm and suicidal behaviour, particularly in young people. However, little is known about the prevalence and patterns of suicide/self-harm related Internet use in the general population. Methods: Cross sectional study of 3946 of the 8525 participants in the Avon Longi...
Article
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is common and is associated with an increased risk of psychopathology in offspring. However, depression shows considerable heterogeneity in its course over time. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between parent depression symptom trajectories and (i) quality of life and social impairment and (ii) p...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives To investigate the mental health, substance use, educational, and occupational outcomes of adolescents who self harm in a general population sample, and to examine whether these outcomes differ according to self reported suicidal intent. Design Population based birth cohort study. Setting Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (...