Student suicides fall at University of Manchester

Figures from a freedom of information request to the University of Manchester show suicide rates among students there have decreased in recent years.

There were two suicides between 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2022 compared to six suicides between 1st January 2018 to 31st December 2018.

Dr. Simon Merrywest, Director for the Student Experience at the University of Manchester, said:  “Although we recognise that rates of suicide amongst university students are lower than an age matched cohort in the general population, any death by suicide is by definition a tragic event and the University puts considerable weight on the need to evolve continually its understanding of and response to students at risk of suicide.

“Senior staff, including the President and Vice-Chancellor, are committed to continuing to make further improvements to what is already a robust, University-wide response.”

The University puts considerable effort into suicide prevention.  They have a comprehensive suicide strategy focusing on prevention, intervention and postvention.  This was developed with input from staff, students, those with lived experience of bereavement and academic colleagues with research expertise around suicide.

Using the mental health Stepped Care model as a framework, the university can respond appropriately to different levels of severity including risk. This is supported through a combination of pan-University support (including specialist teams), the use of selected third party provided support and collaboration with relevant NHS and other organisations.

It offers other support such as a peer support scheme where students can get support and advice from more senior students.  They also offer a student buddying scheme where students who feel isolated are matched with peer buddies who can provide a listening ear and help them seek further support.

The University provides a number of services to support students and staff with mental health conditions. This includes the University’s Counselling and Mental Health Service, the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS), the Occupational Health Service and their Advice and Response Team.

The University’s Counselling and Mental Health Service, based on their main campus, is open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.  The service is predominantly staffed by counsellors and psychotherapists, but it also has mental health nurses, triage practitioners and a part-time consultant psychiatrist.

Each hall of residence has a Residential Life support team who live on-site and are available as a source of advice and support out of hours. This includes a ResLife Officer and several ResLife Advisors, who are assigned a certain block or number of flats to support.

University staff and postgraduate students make up the team; therefore, they understand the demands of university life and can empathise with most problems students in halls may face. As well as being on call for any issues or incidents, ResLife Advisors will hold regular ‘flat’ or small group meetings to ensure everyone is happy and involved in the residential experience.

The university also provides a 24/7 Freephone line and app for live chat, which is staffed by mental health practitioners and is available completely free to all their students.

In addition, students are encouraged to download the Safezone app (also free to download and use), which can be used and will alert university security or the blue light services to an urgent need for support or can be used to access well-being advice or book a mental health appointment.

Main image by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash

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