UK student suicide rates increased 56% between 2007 and 2016

A study presented at the International Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand, has analysed figures for student suicides between 2007 and 2016, and found that the suicide rate among UK have increased by 56%. The 2016 figures showed 146 student suicide, the highest in records since 2001.

While the figures do not specify the type of student, be it university or some other form of study, it is reflective of increasing anxiety and mental health worries reported among those of the same age group. Another report by the Institute of Public Policy Research, showed the numbers of university students disclosing mental health problems had increased fivefold in a decade.

Sir Anthony, Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham and a campaigner on student well-being, said that student suicide rates and emotional distress levels could be reduced if there are preventive policies in place. This includes “more support in transitions, better tutoring and early warning, more peer to peer support, [and] an enhanced sense of belonging” which would all enhance wellbeing and reduce risk.

The numbers paint a bleak picture of the reality facing us today. While this is taking place in the UK, it is still salient in Singapore’s context. As educators, we have to be aware and mindful of our students’ mental well-being, especially when they are faced with the pressures of the paper chase. We need to remember that academic excellence is not the be-all and end-all. Mental health and resilience is very important for total wellbeing and we should strive to ensure that students under our charge remain well-adjusted and positive.

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