Free suicide awareness training for students has today been launched by the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) as they try to address the concerning rates of suicide among young people.

The new edition of the ZSA’s suicide awareness training aims to support the UK’s 2.4 million students to have potentially life-saving conversations after 2,382 young people took their own lives (aged between 15 and 24) in England, Scotland and Wales between 2018 and 2020, according to a recent Samaritans report.

The student edition of the training teaches them the skills to recognise someone who may be struggling, how to approach a difficult conversation and has been developed with support from those currently studying and bereaved relatives. The latest available data on student suicide figures (ONS, 2018) stated that eight students a month died by suicide in the academic year 2016 to 2017.

“Becoming a student is an exciting time for many but it can also lead to pressures they have never encountered before like exam stress or being away from their home environment and that can lead to real mental health issues,” explained Prof Joe Rafferty CBE, one of the ZSA’s founders.

“Talking about a difficult subject like suicidal feelings is never easy and this training aims to encourage students, or any young person, to talk to each other about their problems so they can be signposted to help as soon as possible.

“We hope by doing the training we’ll be able to empower students with the skills to approach one of their friends or housemates if they can see they are struggling and maybe at risk of suicide.”

The training will be shared across the UK’s universities and Professor Steve West, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of England welcomed its launch. He said: 

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of open conversations and of clear and simple access to support for students who are struggling. This online training is a hugely valuable tool for students as well as the family and friends who may be worried about them.

“It is a priority for the higher education sector to support students who may be at risk, and we have a collective ambition to eliminate all avoidable deaths from suicide.

“I would encourage every university to spread the word about the ZSA training across campus and beyond.”

The new Suicide Awareness Training - University Student edition has been added to our training pages