Statistics try to help reduce student suicides

August 9, 2019   //   No Comments

A year ago The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published a report on the rates of Higher Education student suicides. Professor Louis Appleby, Chair of England’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, looks back on the past 12 months and the impact the ONS’ work has had.

The ONS estimates showed that, contrary to the prevailing view, the risk of student suicide was lower than the risk in the general population. However, tragically, it also showed that suicide rates among university students in England and Wales had gone up slightly over the last decade. In addition, it highlighted that young male students are significantly more likely to die by suicide than female students – which follows national trends in the wider population.

The data linkage allowed an investigation of how certain factors are associated with suicide risk such as being part-time, being an undergraduate versus postgraduate, and ethnic group, meaning prevention measures could be aimed at those most at risk, helping to save lives.

Following publication of ONS’ work, the Department for Education announced plans for a University Mental Health Charter. Backed by the Government and led by the sector, the aim is to drive up standards in promoting student and staff mental health and wellbeing. Additionally, Public Health England, the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England supported Universities UK and charity Papyrus to develop guidance for universities on preventing suicides.

More recently a £14.5m programme to help reduce the number of student suicides at universities and colleges in England has been unveiled by the higher education regulator.

The full report may be read here.