Talking about suicide: A guide for college and university staff

White curve
Supporting students after the initial crisis

Trigger warning: these pages include content discussing suicidal feelings and self-harm 

Action plan 4 – follow-up support 

It is important that the university supports students who’ve been identified as being at risk of suicide, and that they have a follow-up plan. 

  • Once the student returns to university or their accommodation, don’t ignore what happened – ask the student how they are. 
  • Ask the student who they want to know about the situation but don’t tell anyone who doesn’t need to know. 
  • Involve the learning inclusion team or student support who can work with the student to put a personal support plan in place. This is developed in full collaboration with the student to make sure that it meets their needs. 
What to do in the unfortunate event of a suicide

If a suicide or suspected suicide occurs within the university community, it can be an extremely distressing and confusing time for staff and students alike. It helps to have a plan that can be acted on straight away. 


What to do if a suicide takes place


Giving everyone the confidence to talk about suicide

To reduce the stigma of mental health issues colleges and universities should have a policy where talking about mental health is everyone’s responsibility and helping to protect a student who is suicidal is part of that.  


Being confident to talk about suicide

Resources and sources of support

Support, information and signposting anywhere in the UK via webchat or phone.
Call: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm-midnight, 365 days a year)

Papyrus is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.
For confidential suicide prevention advice contact HOPELINEUK, 9am-midnight, every day.
Call: 0800 068 4141
Text: 07860 039967


Samaritans offers listening and support to people and communities in times of need.
Available to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days a yearCall: 116 123 (free line)


24/7 text service, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere
Text: SHOUT to 85258

This content has been adapted from Talking about suicide: A guide for college staff" originally developed as a partnership between the Association of Colleges and the Charlie Waller Trust and has been endorsed by Universities UK and Papyrus. It was written by members of the Charlie Waller team who are experts in the field – Dr Andrew Reeves, Kirsten Amis, Kath Caffrey – and reviewed by Prof. Keith Hawton at the Centre for Suicide Research.




Talking about suicide - A guide for college staff

A guide for college staff developed in partnership with the Association of Colleges

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Talking about suicide - A guide for university staff

A guide for university staff endorsed by Universities UK, Papyrus and the Centre for Suicide Research

View resource

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