Suicide in student population

Universities UK's work on suicide in the student population sits within a wider programme of work on mental health in higher education including the #StepChange framework and Minding our future.

Guidance for universities on preventing student suicides

Universities UK and Papyrus, the UK's national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, have published guidance to help universities prevent student suicides. The guidance covers the following areas:

  • steps to prevent student suicide
  • intervening when students get into difficulties
  • best practice for responding to student suicides
  • case studies on approaches to suicide prevention through partnership working
  • checklist highlighting steps university leaders can take to make their communities safe

Advisory group members

An advisory group, chaired by Professor Hugh Brady (Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol), was formed to shape and advise on this work.


  • Jayne Aldridge – Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education
  • Andy Chapman – City of York Council
  • John de Pury – Universities UK
  • Hamish Elvidge – The Matthew Elvidge Trust
  • Nina Clarke – PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide
  • Helen Garnham – Public Health England
  • David Gunnell – University of Bristol
  • Gedminte Mikulenaite – Universities UK
  • Amy Norton - Office for Students
  • Alicia O'Grady - University of Bristol
  • Fleur Priest-Stephens – National Union of Students
  • Leonie Roberts – Bristol City Council
  • Jo Smith - University of Worcester
  • Faye Henney – NHS England
  • Ursula James – IAPT, NHS England
  • Katie Currie – Bristol Thrive

Research on student suicides

Universities UK is partnering with the University of Worcester to collect research data on incidences of student suicide, recording and monitoring, current suicide prevention and postvention strategies across the higher education sector and barriers/facilitators that might influence provision. This PhD research project has been match-funded by the James Wentworth Stanley Memorial Fund (lead researcher: Chantal Vinyard (PhD student). 

Another related PhD research project is exploring postvention support needs and roles for staff in higher education following a student suicide (lead researcher: Hilary Causer, PhD student).

The University of Worcester student suicide research team led by Professor Jo Smith includes: Chantal Vinyard (PhD student); Hilary Causer (PhD Student); Prof. Jo Smith; Prof. Eleanor Bradley; Prof. Lisa Jones; Prof. Theresa Mitchell; and Dr Kate Muse.

Data on suicides at university

Universities UK has responded to data published on 25 June 2018 by the Office for National Statistics examining suicide rates among university students.

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

Contact and social media

For more information on Universities UK's work on mental health, please contact Universities UK's enquiries service or tweet us @UniversitiesUK #stepchange #studentmentalhealth #suicideprevention


Students catch-up studies

Universities boosting academic skills and wellbeing of Year 13s

9 June 2021
​Universities are stepping up efforts to support the education and wellbeing of Year 13s transitioning to higher education this autumn.

Students in corridor

Government decision on student returns in England 'hugely disappointing for students'

13 April 2021
UUK's response to the government's decision to delay further student returns until at least 17 May 2021.

students standing in a bright room with only their legs visible

Joint letter from UUK, Student Minds and NUS on student returns

11 April 2021
With student and young people’s wellbeing at risk, universities are keen to ensure that students can experience the positive learning and wellbeing benefits of returning to Covid-safe campuses for the summer term.