At Student Minds we recognise the need for further research to understand the root causes of the tragedy of student deaths by suicide. The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) recently announced a Case Review investigating this further. Student Minds welcome UWE’s open response and hope this transparent and progressive approach can lead the way in building a national evidence base in the future.
We believe it is important for everyone in the Higher Education sector to increase collaborative working and share learning to prevent student deaths by suicide as well as inform the support that is provided for students.
UWE Bristol’s case review, supported by Public Health England (PHE), investigated 14 identified probable deaths by suicide (confirmed, suspected or likely) among UWE students between January 2010 and July 2018. This figure was later revised to 12 probable deaths by suicide during the period examined, from over 200,000 students enrolled at UWE Bristol over that period. The case review has helped UWE Bristol to identify common factors, characteristics and areas to consider in their suicide prevention plan.
UWE Bristol’s key findings:
As there is a small sample size it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from these findings. We now need the support of the sector and more research, with universities coming together to share their experiences of student deaths by suicide. We encourage all Higher Education institutions to build upon and utilise the methodology of this research. UWE’s work provides an example of a model that can be used by other universities, colleges and schools across the UK. For this work to be successful we also suggest that we work in partnership locally to build our understanding, with universities joining up with the NHS. This will help to build a national evidence base to prevent the loss of students to suicide.
You can find more guidance recently produced by Universities UK for universities on this topic in the ‘Suicide Safer Universities’ guide. The University of Worcester has also shared their experiences developing an approach for the What Works Centre.
We support UWE Bristol’s commitment to student mental health and wellbeing, we look forward to seeing how they build on this research and continue to build on the work we know they have undertaken so far to co-produce interventions with students and seeing the development of their new suicide prevention plan.
We understand that it's not easy for any students, family members or members of the university community to read about these very difficult issues and we encourage anyone affected to look after yourself and reach out to others if required (please see links provided below).
Are you looking for support?
Research into student mental health suggests that broad support networks can help recovery from, and management of, mental health difficulties. Your wider support network might include friends and family, your GP, University counselling / wellbeing services.
Are you feeling actively suicidal?
If you are feeling like you want to die, please consider that many people who have attempted or come close to suicide look back with gratitude that they were not successful in acting on their intentions.
If you are feeling actively suicidal now: