Identifying and supporting vulnerable students

A suspected suicide in a school is a very sad and traumatic event in the school community. It can throw up all kinds of feelings and each person will react in their own way. Step by Step offers guidance and support on how to identify and support vulnerable students.

People affected by a suspected suicide may be more vulnerable than others and may potentially be at greater risk of taking their own life.

School staff should be asked to identify any young people who may be vulnerable and efforts should be made to provide additional support or referral to specialist services.

Who might be more vulnerable to suicide?

Suicide is a complex issue, usually with no single cause and it’s therefore not possible to generalise. However, there is some evidence to suggest that people who have previously experienced bereavement by suicide or undergone a personal crisis, people with mental health problems and those in marginal groups may be more vulnerable.

Teachers who know the students best should be alert to any students who are excessively upset or disturbed by the death. These young people should be offered appropriate support without delay.


I asked the most bizarre questions because the kids had asked me bizarre things and they responded so well. I was rerally impressed with the way they spoke to us - Head teacher

How can Step by Step help?

The Step by Step Team have developed information sheets to help support teachers, parents/ carers and young people in the aftermath of a suicide. These can be accessed through the Step by Step service

If you would like to discuss any concerns you have about supporting vulnerable students, call the Step by Step team today  0808 168 2528* or email


One thing that we did that made a big difference was a card to take home, which had the school mobile number on it. If they wanted to talk to someone they knew, they could, which was a really great idea and we received a few calls as half term was three weeks after the suicide - Teacher

Find out more about how to start difficult conversations

*Calls are free from landlines and some mobile providers