This topic briefing discusses issues relating to suicide and mental health. It does not constitute regulatory guidance. It is intended to help providers develop suicide prevention strategies at their university or college. If you are affected by any of the issues raised, there are services that can help:
- The Samaritans are open every day of the year, you can phone them for free on 116 123 or email [email protected] (response time: 24 hours)
- SHOUT 85258 is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope
- Mind, the mental health charity, offers support by phone at 0300 123 3393 or online
- The NHS mental health information and support.
National strategies and plans
Public Health England resources and guidance
Suicide prevention: developing a local action plan aims to support local authority public health teams to work with sustainability and transformation partnerships to implement local suicide prevention plans and embed work within local sustainability and transformation plans.
A Suicide Prevention Profile has been produced to help develop understanding at a local level and support an intelligence driven approach to suicide prevention. It collates and presents a range of publicly available data on suicide, associated prevalence, risk factors, and contact with services among groups at increased risk.
Public Health England has published a resource of emerging practice examples on mental health promotion and prevention training programmes and resources and guidance for local authorities, public healthcare professionals and others to prevent suicides in their areas.
Suicide prevention: identifying and responding to suicide clusters - This toolkit, based on research into suicide clusters, is part of PHE's support for the government’s suicide prevention strategy.
Suicide Safer Universities guidance
With funding from the OfS, Universities UK and Papyrus (the UK's national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide) published the Suicide-Safer Universities guidance in 2018 to help university leaders prevent student suicides. There is separate guidance aimed at university leaders and section practitioners. This includes:
- Advice on developing a strategy focused specifically on suicide prevention
- Steps to prevent student suicide
- Intervening when students get into difficulties
- Best practice for responding to student suicides (postvention)
- Case studies on approaches to suicide prevention through partnership working
- Checklist highlighting steps university leaders can take to make their communities safe.
Further guidance and training
- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
A two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid and more.
- Charlie Waller Trust
Set up in 1997 by the family of Charlie Waller shortly after his death by suicide at the age of 28 during a period of depression. It provides training, resources and information for young people, and those with a responsibility for them, about their mental health and wellbeing. The Trust has produced an E-learning package, which is open access training for non-specialist staff, designed to help develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to offer a first line of support to students who may have mental health issues.
They have also developed a guide for college staff for talking to students about suicide.
A suicide prevention charity that helps to create safe spaces in communities for potentially lifesaving conversations about suicide.
- Health Education England
Health Education England and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health have launched a series of self-harm and suicide prevention frameworks. The competency frameworks describe activities that need to be brought together to support people who self-harm or are suicidal.
The e-learning resource 'We need to talk about suicide' aims to provide support for volunteers and health care professionals, enabling them to recognise early warning signs of suicide, and feel more confident in raising the issue of suicide with people they are concerned about.
- The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
The ICO website provides information and guidance on data sharing.
- National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA)
The NSPA is an alliance of public, private and voluntary organisations in England that work together to take action to reduce suicide and self-harm, and support those bereaved or affected by suicide.
A national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, PAPYRUS provides resources for universities including PAPYRUS training and a guide for teachers and staff.
- Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide: A Practical Guide for FE and HE Settings
Edited by Sharon Mallon and Jo Smith, this practical book covers issues related to suicide risk, prevention and postvention in higher and further education communities.
R;pple is a free browser extension tool designed to ensure more help and support is provided to individuals who are conducting searches relating to self-harm or suicide online. R;pple intercepts harmful online searches and triggers a message of hope as well as a selection of mental health resources in a range of different options (call, text, webchat) from free, established and 24/7 charity services. Email [email protected] for more information.
- safeTALK Suicide Alertness
A half-day suicide prevention training course with practical steps that can offer immediate help to someone having thoughts of suicide using the TALK steps – Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep-safe.
Samaritans provide a number of useful resources, including guidance for supporting someone with suicidal thoughts, support for people bereaved by suicide, media guidelines for reporting suicide and online resources that reinforce industry codes of practice, supporting the highest standards of coverage of suicide.
- STORM skills training
This offers suicide prevention skills training for frontline workers.
- Student Minds ‘Student living’ guidance
Research and recommendations on university accommodation for university and accommodation sectors, which includes some reference to suicide safer policies.
- The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) - Information sharing and suicide prevention: consensus statement
Working in consultation with other organisations the DHSC has published a refreshed version of the consensus statement (2021).
- The University Mental Health Charter sets out principles of good practice for universities to follow regarding prevention, intervention and postvention of suicide.
- Suicide Bereavement
Suicide Bereavement offer Postvention Assisting those Bereaved By Suicide (PABBS) training which aims to increase the knowledge, skills and confidence of health and care professionals so that they can appropriately respond to and care for those bereaved or affected after a suicide.
- Support after suicide
UK network of organisations and policy makers, which is involved in delivering suicide bereavement support.
- Zero Suicide Alliance
A collaboration of NHS trusts, charities, businesses and individuals who are all committed to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond. The Alliance provides free suicide prevention training accessible to all and it also works in partnership with a range of organisations, including higher education providers, to offer bespoke training.