Student suicides rise along with debt burdens

The number of students taking their own lives rose by 50 per cent in four years, figures have shown.

December 4, 2012

The statistics, released via a Freedom of Information request made by Ed Pinkney, the founder of Mental Wealth UK, a student mental health charity, was made public through the Office for National Statistics website last week.

According to the data, between 2007 and 2011 the number of suicides by male students in full-time higher education rose by 36 per cent, from 57 to 78. The number of female student suicides per year almost doubled over that time period, from 18 to 34.

According to Mr Pinkney, the figures come in the light of growing pressures on students caused by rising costs and gloomy job prospects.

Just this week, an example was highlighted in the media of Toby Thorn, who took his life after dropping out of Anglia Ruskin University and struggling with debts of £8,000.

An inquest into his death ruled that his debt had been a major contributory factor in his suicide, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

Mr Pinkney cited a study published by the British Medical Journal in August that suggests that the financial crisis may have caused more than 1,000 suicides in the UK.

Last year, the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a report highlighting the "pressing need" for more to be done around the mental health of students.

Mr Pinkney said: "The RCP's report was welcomed by those working with the mental health of students, but there's little evidence that institutions have taken its recommendations seriously. These new figures reveal the urgency of the problem."

He said that although a larger student body may account for some of the rise in the number of suicides, enrolment of over-18s in full-time education grew by a modest 15 per cent between 2007 and 2011, from 1.4 million to 1.6 million.

However, the ONS warned those interpreting the data on student suicides should be cautious about drawing conclusions on trends due to the relatively small numbers involved.

simon.baker@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Cricket player and umpire exchanging bribe

The need to accommodate foreign students undermines domestic practices, says Lincoln Allison, spying parallels between UK universities and global sports bodies such as Fifa