New Book Aims to Support Education Providers on the Complex Issue of Student Suicide

Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide - book over 2

The new book, Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide - A Practical Guide for FE and HE Settings, is being launched today (November 18) at an event being run by AMOSSHE, the Student Services Organisation. It offers a comprehensive guide to a variety of approaches that can help in preventing a tragedy from occurring, or in responding appropriately should the worst happen.

Edited by Professor Jo Smith, Emeritus Professor with the University of Worcester, and Dr Sharon Mallon, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at the Open University, the book offers a broadly practical approach, drawing on the contributions of 37 experts from the field.

“This is the first book to specifically deal with student suicide in the FE and HE sectors,” said Professor Smith. “As such we hope it will help support institutions to clarify both their thinking and their response to this most complex of issues.”

“The pandemic has caused a deterioration in student mental health nation-wide,” she added. “At the University of Worcester, we have done a lot of work to address student suicide through our Suicide Safer project, but the latest figures nationally show that this is an issue that we need to continue to work hard at. Suicide Safer has helped to shift the dial on this issue, but there is always more to do.”

The Suicide Safer project was first launched at the University of Worcester in 2015. It established an innovative multi-agency approach, drawing together expertise from within the University itself along with key local public and third sector partners, including Public Health Worcestershire, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, Samaritans, and Community First. The project was recognised at the Times Higher Education Awards of 2018, where the University of Worcester was shortlisted in the category of Outstanding Student Support.

“One of the main benefits of the approach we pioneered with Suicide Safer is the way it brings together all of our counselling and mental health services within the University, with those from the local NHS, public health services, and third sector partners,” Professor Smith said. “Now everyone knows what the others are doing, and what is available. Ultimately this means we are better able to provide a holistic package of support for individuals in need.”

And now, with their new book, Professor Smith and Dr Mallon are seeking to enhance and build upon this work, shining a light on the complex issues at play when poor student mental health begins to tip towards something potentially tragic. Taking a pragmatic, evidence-based approach, the book encourages a holistic, institution-wide response to the three key areas of suicide risk, prevention, and postvention within both further and higher education.


Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide: A Practical Guide for FE and HE Settings, edited by Jo Smith and Sharon Mallon, is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

In the UK, Samaritans can be called for free on 116 123.