The Office for Students (OfS) has published a new topic briefing, setting out some of the approaches that universities and colleges can take to help prevent suicide among students.
The briefing offers guidance to universities and colleges on the steps they can take to support students who may be at risk of suicide and their communities as a whole, as well as providing links to a range of resources and training materials.
Advice includes ensuring suicide prevention work involves the whole university or college community, with senior leaders taking ownership of suicide prevention strategies. The briefing also calls on universities and colleges to ensure that student mental health is a strategic priority, and for students to be actively and appropriately involved in the development of approaches.
Commenting, Lord Wharton, chair of the Office for Students said:
'Every death by suicide is a tragedy, and has a profound impact on family and friends, staff and students. This briefing provides practical resources, and shares some of the important suicide prevention work being done by universities. The OfS will continue to work closely with universities and colleges, student representatives and organisations involved in suicide prevention, with the aim of ensuring that all higher education providers have a clear and robust plan for preventing and responding to incidents of student suicide.'
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:
'Protecting the mental health and wellbeing of students is paramount and we all have a responsibility to support students at risk of suicide by backing the vital prevention work being done on campuses across the country. In June I chaired a roundtable with Universities UK, joined by leading researchers, charities, and the families of those who have lost loved ones, on how we can ensure students are safe and supported throughout their time at university. This was an important step in our commitment to supporting higher education providers to care for their students experiencing mental health issues and I welcome this valuable set of resources from the Office for Students.
'It’s critical we support student mental health in every way, which is why we have asked the Office for Students to allocate £15 million for student mental health this academic year, and invested in Student Space, a dedicated student mental health and wellbeing platform which provides vital support to students at university.'
Alongside the briefing, the OfS has also published a blog from its director for fair access and participation Chris Millward and the vice chancellor of the University of the West England Bristol (UWE) and president of Universities UK Professor Steve West. Work being done by UWE is also included as an example in the briefing.
The briefing sets out collaborative approaches, including that being taken by the University of York, as well as training and guidance offered to students from Nottingham Trent University. It also describes work led by the University of Worcester on campaigning, education and training, developing new resources and contributing to academic research on this issue.Read the suicide prevention topic briefing
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.