New data published on student suicide rates

Universities UK has responded to data published on 25 June 2018 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) looking at suicide rates among university students.

Previous ONS estimates looking at student suicides covered a range of other students including, for example, those in further education. The new statistics show that, between 2013 and 2016, higher education students in England and Wales had a significantly lower suicide rate compared with the general population of similar ages.

 John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy at Universities UK, said: "This new release is the most comprehensive data we have on the rate of suicide among university students. Although there is a lower rate of student suicide among university students in England and Wales compared with the general population of similar ages, there is no room for complacency here. This remains an urgent challenge for universities and society.

"Professor Hugh Brady (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol) will be chairing a Universities UK advisory group for the development of a student suicide prevention and response toolkit with Papyrus in September.

"Universities UK is working with James Murray, father of Ben Murray who took his own life in Bristol. The aim is to develop specific policies on consent to share information with parents and carers and better join-up of university services for students in distress."



  1. The new analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – Estimating suicide among higher education students, England and Wales: Experimental Statistics – is available on the ONS website. The analysis is based on mortality records linked to Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student records. The overall suicide rate among university students is 4.4 deaths per 100,000 students, compared with 11.6 deaths per 100,000 general population.
  1. Universities UK published recently Minding our future, new guidance to improve the coordination of care between the NHS and universities so that all students can access the mental health care they need.
  1. Universities UK has also published a framework to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of university students. The step change framework ­– part of Universities UK's programme of work to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in higher education – is aimed at supporting university leaders to help embed good mental health across all university activities.
  1. Universities UK's policy lead on mental health, John de Pury, has published a blog discussing the issue of student suicide, including suicide prevention and response.

Key Contacts

Steven Jefferies

Steven Jefferies

Head of Media
Universities UK

Eloise Phillips

Eloise Phillips

Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Media Officer
Universities UK


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