Over 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year in the UK but we are not keen to talk about suicide in schoolchildren or the number of children in this level of emotional distress.
Statistics (in England and Wales) were only released for the 10-14 age group for the first time in 2015. Suicides by children under 10 are not included in official statistics. While there have been moves to prioritise the emotional health and mental wellbeing of children in schools, far fewer people are talking about suicide prevention. The stigma, silence and misconceptions around suicide mean that it is often not part of our normal conversation, and there is insufficient action to make suicide prevention training a priority for all who work with children and young people.
Schoolchildren spend the majority of their waking hours at school: teachers and school staff have the opportunity to recognise the signs that a student might be at risk of suicide and they are best placed to respond effectively. Despite this, many are unsure of what to do or to say. Indeed, many are frightened that they may make things worse by talking to their pupils about suicide. There is currently very little guidance for schools and colleges on how to prevent suicide and support those affected by it.
Many teachers and school staff do not feel equipped to support schoolchildren at risk. This can be exacerbated by a lack of resources and having to work with mental health services which are often overstretched. A 2017 survey, commissioned by PAPYRUS, found that one in ten (11%) of teachers said, on average, a student shares suicidal thoughts with them once a term or more. Yet our survey also identified a real need for support and training in the sector.
Building Suicide-Safer Schools and Colleges: A Guide for Teachers and Staff
A downloadable guide
PAPYRUS has developed a guide to suicide prevention, intervention and postvention in schools and colleges, aimed specifically at teachers as well as school or college staff. It aims to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge necessary to support schoolchildren who may be having suicidal thoughts. The guide uses a ‘community-model’ – supporting the belief that suicide is everyone’s business and that the community must be equipped and supported to prevent young suicide – as well as urging children young people to speak up or ask for help.Schools-guide-PAPYRUS
Brief guidance document supporting a Young Person
Information is suitable for sharing with a parent worried about a family member.Supporting-someone-to-stay-safe
Contact for information on supporting young people to create their own safety plan