Samaritans’ response to ONS’ Estimate of Suicide Among Higher Education Students

“Suicide is complex. Every death is a devastating tragedy and likely to be caused by a combination of circumstances, characteristics and events.

All new data that gives us an insight into those who take their own lives is welcome. The sooner statistics are available, the more opportunity there is to target support and resources at those who may be at risk.

“These statistics show that students in higher education are not at an increased risk of suicide compared to the general population. But, we are concerned about the increase in suicides among students in recent years and would like to understand why this is happening and who is most at risk within this population. This data shows for example, that around 1 in 3 students who die by suicide are female, whereas in the general population, this figure is 1 in 4, but we don’t yet know why this is.

“Data about suicides is often delayed because of the inquest process, which can be lengthy. This means deaths may not be registered for many months and even years after a suicide. We believe there is an urgent need for more up to date and comprehensive data on deaths by suicide in the UK and we want to see this made a priority.

“A number of factors, including gender, a history of self-harm and socioeconomic deprivation can influence suicide risk.

“The likelihood that someone will take their own life also increases in communities where there has been a death by suicide. It’s important for everyone to understand that and to work together to reduce that risk and put in place appropriate support measures for anyone who may be affected.

“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business. Through our Local Action Saves Lives campaign, we have helped ensure that every area has a suicide prevention plan. Businesses, communities, education institutions and other public bodies need to work together to increase their understanding of suicide risk and suicidal behaviours, taking effective suicide prevention measures and acting immediately to reduce the impact of a suicide when the worst happens.”

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland

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