Bid to stop suicides

March 5, 1999

Universities and colleges need to be more open about the risk of student suicide and self-harm to overcome the stigma attached to seeking help.

The advice is in a report presented this week to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals that calls on institutions to lobby government for extra funds to help support students who may deliberately harm themselves.

The university suicide intervention initiative is endorsed by ten voluntary organisations including the National Student Bureau, Oxford and London Universities' nightline service, the Samaritans, and Parents for the Prevention of Youth Suicide.

Chris O'Sullivan, disabilities officer for the National Union of Students Scotland, who compiled the report, said: "It's not for institutions to 'out' themselves and give figures, but to take a long hard look at themselves."

Crisis-support services should be widely publicised so that suicide and deliberate self-harm "become less of a shocking subject", the report says. Support should be available on demand, including out-of-hours medical cover. There should be training for staff such as hall wardens and tutors and all staff should know about support services.

The CVCP has agreed in principle to back a study establishing suicide and deliberate self-harm trends, collating examples of good practice in suicide prevention and producing recommendations.

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