Suicide-safer Universities in Scotland

Taking action on suicide in Scotland

Every suicide is a tragic loss of life. Where this occurs within a university it has a profound and
lasting impact on the staff and student community.

Scotland’s universities are deeply involved in the development of suicide-safer strategies and action plans, using Universities UK’s Suicide-Safer Universities Framework. Many now have stand-alone strategies in place. Others are working through the Framework, towards new or refreshed strategies, or have this action planned as part of a wider and coordinated review of their institution’s mental health strategy.

Suicide-safer Universities in Scotland has been developed for universities and their stakeholders and shares the reflections of four senior staff on their institutional approach. Each reflection focuses on different elements within the overall UUK Framework.

We hope that this resource will achieve the following:

  1. that real-world insight into the development of a suicide-safer strategy is shared on a peer-to-peer basis for the benefit of other institutions, and their stakeholders.
  2. that it both encourages and supports progress towards every institution having a suicide safer strategy in place.

Biggest ever study into student mental health in Scotland

The data on suicide rates amongst young people is deeply distressing. Behind every statistic is a person whose life was important. It is vitally important that we engage with the data and evidence on the level of risk that exists in our student community. That is the reason Universities Scotland has worked in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation to run the Thriving Learners survey into student mental health. With over 15,000 respondents, we believe it may be the UK’s biggest ever survey into student mental health. The survey asked students directly about self-harm, suicide ideation and attempts to commit suicide.

We are grateful to the student respondents who bravely took the time to share their experiences, with the aim, no doubt, of raising awareness and helping others.

Key Points:

  • New data from the Mental Health Foundation’s 2021 Thriving Learners Survey amongst university students in Scotland found that 19.6% of survey respondents reported having either suicidal ideation or attempting to kill themselves within the previous six months.
  • Universities’ approach to suicide prevention is embedded within wider, holistic work to support student mental health and to create and sustain mentally healthy universities, through UUK’s StepChange Framework.


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