Dr Keith Harris

Research Associate


Career Summary


Dr Keith Harris completed his PhD at the University of Queensland, with a dissertation on suicidal individuals' use of the internet for suicide-related purposes. Keith is from the USA, and has lived and worked as a research-teaching academic in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and has traveled extensively. Keith comes from an applied social psychology perspective, but likes to consider various positions when tackling theoretical and real-world challenges. He has been active in the field of Suicidology since 2005, is a member of the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP), the International Academy of Suicide Research (IASR), the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), and the Australian Psychological Society (MAPS).

Dr Harris is actively involved in a number of research, teaching, and community development areas. His primary interests are in understanding suicidality and improving suicide prevention efforts, and better understanding human-information technology interactions. He has done work on problematic mobile phone use, online gaming, social networking for help-seeking and social support, and online survey methodology. His core factors of interest have been: help-seeking, social support, and suicidal behaviors.

Keith is currently working on furthering our understanding of social networking, such as forming new social relationships (assessed through his Online Relationship Building Scale: ORBS). He is working to expand help-seeking models through more current perspectives, which include online and mobile use and potential. In addition, he is developing improved assessment of suicidal ideation, as well as assessment of suicide-related stigma.

Keith is active in the mental health community; particularly the suicide prevention community. He has worked with coroner departments, hospitals, suicide prevention organizations, students and academics to promote suicide prevention and research. He is founder and director of the Suicide Study Group (SSG), and is happy to work with anyone interested in this area.

Research Expertise
I am interested in any factor, risk or protective, related to suicidality. The suicidal mind is one of my greatest areas of interest, and a frequent research topic of mine. Other specific areas include: how suicidal people use the internet, help-seeking, social support, psychopathology, sexual orientation, and cultural factors related to mental health and suicide risk. My research methods include online surveys, laboratory experiments, as well as analysis of hospital and clinical data. My projects are aimed at both furthering scientific knowledge as well as applying that knowledge to help solve real-world problems. Some of my research contributions include: furthering the understanding of how suicidal people think about life and death and deciding on suicide; developing the ORBS - Online Relationship Building Scale; developing the LDAS - Life-Death Ambivalence Scale, empirical study of online suicidal behaviours, how suicidal individuals differ by sexuality, and evaluation of how hospitals process suicide attempters. In addition, I am interested and actively involved in researching areas such as: health psychology, pyschometrics (creating and evaluating new scales/measures), use of technology for mental health purposes, help-seeking, cross cultural factors, and whatever else grabs my interest at the moment. I am always happy to find colleagues, students, and professionals to collaborate with on projects of mutual interest. Feel free to get in touch if there is something you would like to work together on.

Teaching Expertise
Dr Harris has taught courses on: Suicidology, Introduction to Psychology, Psychopathology, Health Psychology, and Research Methods and Statistics. He also gives workshops and seminars on applied research, online surveys, using SPSS and EndNote.

Administrative Expertise
Dr Harris has experience coordinating small to large projects, including a multidisciplinary ARC-Linkage project, Suicide Study Group (SSG) events and research, as well as seminars - including his World Suicide Prevention Day seminars (e.g. 10th September, 2012, 6-8PM, University of Newcastle, Australia, McMullen Lecture Theater).

Dr Harris thoroughly enjoys collaborating with others on Best Practice research, outreach, and treatment. He is currently working with colleagues at the University of Sydney, Stanford University, Deakin University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Queensland, Chulalongkorn University, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Charles Darwin University, and Northwestern University on a variety of projects related to mental health. He is working with the NHMRC’s Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention, Lifeline, Hunter New England Mental Health, Samaritans of Singapore, and other professional and community groups. He currently supervises several Honours, clinical psychology doctoral and masters, and PhD students on projects that aim to make significant contributions toward psychological theory, treatment, and a better understanding of human nature. At the University of Newcastle, Keith has been invited to join the new eHealth cluster, Health@UoN, and the Online Teaching, Learning, & Research Community of Interest, to name a few of his current professional collaborations. Dr Harris is founder and director of the Suicide Study Group (SSG). The SSG is dedicated to furthering theoretical and applied research on suicide, contributing to public education on suicide prevention, and applying research findings to improved treatment and prevention of suicidal behaviors. The SSG can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Suicide-Study-Group/148265885183967?v=wall Currently, Keith's students are doing projects on: Thai and Cambodian media reports of suicide; online help-seeking; risk perceptions and behaviors of suicide-risk adults; borderline personality disorder treatment and reduction in suicidal behaviors; post-treatment help-seeking by patients suffering from comorbid alcohol and depression; pathways to suicide in the Australian farming community; and cyber-bullying. Other current projects include: suicide-related stigma; personality differences and suicide risk; and the safety/efficacy of conducting suicide risk assessment and research.


  • PhD, University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, Michigan State University - USA
  • Master of Arts, Claremont Graduate University - USA


  • Community Mental Health
  • Health Communications
  • Health Psychology
  • Help-Seeking
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Online Behaviors
  • Online Relationship Building Scale (ORBS)
  • Online Surveys
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Research Methodology
  • Social Cognition
  • Social Support
  • Suicide
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Suicide Theory
  • Suicidology

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
111712 Health Promotion 20
179999 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified 40
170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified 40

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2010 -  Membership - Australian Psychological Society Australian Psychological Society
1/01/2006 -  Membership - International Association of Suicide Prevention International Association of Suicide Prevention


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Harris KM, McLean JP, Sheffield J, 'Suicidal and Online: How Do Online Behaviors Inform Us of This High-Risk Population?', Death Studies, 38 387-394 (2014) [C1]

To assist suicide prevention we need a better understanding of how suicidal individuals act in their environment, and the online world offers an ideal opportunity to examine daily... [more]

To assist suicide prevention we need a better understanding of how suicidal individuals act in their environment, and the online world offers an ideal opportunity to examine daily behaviors. This anonymous survey (N = 1,016) provides first-of-its-kind empirical evidence demonstrating suicide-risk people (n = 290) are unique in their online behaviors. Suicidal users reported more time online, greater likelihood of developing online personal relationships, and greater use of online forums. In addition, suicide-risk women reported more time browsing/surfing and social networking. The authors conclude that suicide prevention efforts should respond to suicide-risk users' greater demands for online interpersonal communications. © 2014 Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

DOI 10.1080/07481187.2013.768313
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2
2013 Harris KM, 'Sexuality and suicidality: Matched-pairs analyses reveal unique characteristics in non-heterosexual suicidal behaviors', Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42 729-737 (2013) [C1]

The present findings offer new perspectives on differences between suicide-risk heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning: LGBQ). Results from a... [more]

The present findings offer new perspectives on differences between suicide-risk heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning: LGBQ). Results from an anonymous online survey, employing standardized scales, showed that LGBQ participants reported significantly greater suicide-risk than heterosexuals. Seventy-nine matched pairs of suicide-risk LGBQ and heterosexuals were examined by individual suicide risk factors. Results showed no significant differences on separate measures of suicidal ideation; however, LGBQ participants were more likely to report suicide attempts, disclosure of suicidal intentions, and prediction of future suicide attempts. The LGBQ group also indicated greater likelihood of going online to develop new personal relationships. Multiple regression modeling was conducted to guide outreach and support efforts, revealing unique factors predicting help-seeking denial of suicide-risk LGBQ. Implications include the importance of online support and considering sexual minorities not just as a potential high-risk group, but also as a population with unique suicide risks and behaviors. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

DOI 10.1007/s10508-013-0112-2
2010 Harris KM, McLean J, Sheffield J, Jobes D, 'The internal suicide debate hypothesis: Exploring the life vs. death struggle', Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior: the official journal of the American Association of Suicidology, 40 181-192 (2010) [C1]
2009 Harris KM, McLean J, Sheffield J, 'Examining suicide-risk individuals who go online for suicide-related purposes', Archives of Suicide Research, 13 264-276 (2009) [C1]
2009 Harris KM, McLean J, Sheffield J, 'Solving suicidal problems online: Who turns to the internet for help?', Advances in Mental Health, 8 1-10 (2009) [C1]
Show 2 more journal articles

Grants and Funding


Number of grants 2
Total funding $15,000

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20131 grants / $3,000

Personality, Suicidality and the Internet$3,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Keith Harris
Scheme New Staff Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2013
GNo G1201215
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE

20121 grants / $12,000

Suicide in Cambodia and Thailand: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Suicide Risk Factors and Reporting Styles$12,000

Funding body: Keats Endowment Research Fund

Funding body Keats Endowment Research Fund
Project Team Doctor Keith Harris
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G1201249
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG

Dr Keith Harris


Research Associate
Academic Division

Contact Details

Email keith.harris@newcastle.edu.au


Room W122
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308