Suicide: prevention and approach

Suicide is a distressing and complex issue. It is a taboo that can be difficult to talk about, but it’s important we all try. We want to be clear on the reality and the risks; the impact on us all, and how and where to get support.

How you can help: take suicide prevention training

We are committed to supporting students manage their wellbeing and mental health challenges. We are also committed to suicide prevention.

Take the free suicide prevention training offered by Zero Suicide Alliance

It only takes 20 minutes and you could save someone's life.

Our world today

Mental illness, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm are all real issues for young people. Suicide is the leading cause of death in adolescents and young people in the UK but it can affect people of any age.

Student suicides are devastating for friends and family and have a profound impact on our wider University community of students and staff.

In recent years we have experienced clustering of student deaths by suicide at Bristol. This makes our response particularly important.

Exposure to suicide

There is a lot of evidence that exposure to a death by suicide may trigger suicidal thoughts and behaviours in vulnerable people.

This is called 'contagion' and can lead to a cluster of suicides, in a particular area or within a group.

So, any death by suicide needs to be reported and managed sensitively to limit distress and reduce the risk of contagion.

Our approach when dealing with a suicide

The suicide of a close friend or family member can put a vulnerable person at risk. This is why we reach out to the close friends and family of the the person who has died first.

Our priority is to offer them support to help them deal with their feelings. But we don’t always know who was closest to a student and working this out can take time.

We work with those closest to the person who has died for advice on what we say and to whom.

We try to follow the Samaritans' advice in these difficult circumstances.

Get help

Many of us will experience suicidal thoughts during our lives and for most of us, this will get better.

Many of those who take their own lives have not asked for help. You are not alone.

If you or your friend is experiencing suicidal thoughts, talk to someone, let them know what’s going on and ask for help.

Samaritans: suicide facts and figures

Suicide statistics and trends for the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

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