Over 200 teenagers are lost to suicide every year in the UK.
Children and young people suffer emotional distress in the same way as adults do, but sometimes struggle to know whether their feelings are normal or how to access help to manage them.
While there have been moves to prioritise the emotional health and mental wellbeing of children and young people in schools, many are still reluctant to talk specifically about suicide prevention. The stigma, silence and misconceptions around suicide mean that it is often not part of our normal conversation, and there is insufficient action to make suicide prevention training a priority for all who work with children and young people.
Children and young people spend a large part of their waking hours at school: teachers and school staff have the opportunity to recognise the signs that a student might be at risk of suicide and they are well placed to respond effectively. Despite this, many are unsure of what to do or to say. Indeed, many are frightened that they may make things worse by talking to their pupils about suicide. There is currently very little guidance for schools and colleges on how to prevent suicide and support those affected by it.
From calls to our helpline HOPELINE247, and from our work in communities across the UK, we know that many teachers and school staff do not feel equipped to support students at risk. This can be exacerbated by time restraints, a lack of resources and having to work with mental health services which are often overstretched.
A 2017 survey, commissioned by PAPYRUS, found that one in ten (11%) of teachers said, on average, a student shares suicidal thoughts with them once a term or more. Yet our survey also identified a real need for support and training in the sector.
Building Suicide-Safer Schools and Colleges: A Guide for Teachers and Staff
PAPYRUS has developed a guide to suicide prevention, intervention and postvention in schools and colleges, aimed specifically at teachers as well as wider school or college staff. It aims to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge necessary to support students who may be having suicidal thoughts.
Our guide uses a ‘community-model’ – supporting the belief that suicide is everyone’s business and that the community must be equipped and supported to prevent young suicide – as well as urging children and young people to speak up or ask for help. This underpins our work here at PAPYRUS.
To download our guide, please follow the instructions in the sidebar.