3 October 2022 Media releases
3 October 2022 Media releases
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Last updated on Tuesday 20 Dec 2022 at 10:28pm
Universities need to have clearer policies on how and when they should involve family, carers and trusted friends when there is considered to be a serious risk to the welfare of a student.
Universities UK (UUK), in partnership with PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, is today publishing recommendations calling on universities to be more proactive in preventing student suicides. In particular, the new guidance sets out how and when universities should involve families, carers and trusted others when there are serious concerns about the safety or mental health of a student.
The recommendations include:
The guidance is the first time a consistent practice has been proposed for the sector. It places the student at the centre of decisions about their safety and care. But it also aims to give institutions the confidence to be proactive about involving trusted contacts, to set out properly governed processes to share information and to give staff clarity about their roles and responsibilities.
There is nothing more devastating for a university community than a student death by suicide. As a sector, we need to do everything we can to reduce the risk of suicide and serious self-harm.
Universities are committed to putting students who may be in difficulty at the centre of decisions about their care – including who they want involved. But this commitment must be balanced with a duty to protect a student when there are serious concerns about their safety and welfare.
Universities can help save lives when they adopt a proactive response to suicide prevention, and an important part of that proactive response is making proportionate, risk-based decisions around involving trusted contacts.
Professor Steve West CBE
President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol
University life can be exciting, but also bewildering and frightening at times, especially when students are away from the familiar or the people and places which form part of their preferred or go-to support. Students have a right to think we always have their best interests at heart. This guidance aids the discernment of when to put those best interests at the forefront of decisions on sharing information when emotional crises may loom larger.
Suicide in university populations is relatively rare but can devastate a community when it happens. Together, aided by this guidance, we can all play our part to ensuring it is rarer still.
Chief Executive of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide
The guidance includes case study examples of proactive work already underway across higher education to share information when there are serious concerns about a student’s safety or mental health. One of these case studies presents the ‘opt-in’ used at some universities. UUK suggests that universities may consider this model but also be aware of risks around students who choose not to opt-in, or opt-out later.