Talking about suicide: A guide for college and university staff

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What to do if a suicide takes place

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

The university’s response 

It helps if the university has a formal plan of how to respond to this situation which can be put into action as soon as possible. There are some excellent resources by the Samaritans to help support the university in its response including their partnership with Support After Suicide .


The plan could include:

  • offering support to anyone directly affected (students or staff) such as the person that finds the deceased, or close friends or colleagues, people they live with. 
  • wider offer of support and signposting to  support services for anyone suffering with depression or suicidal feelings
  • an approach to the media to encourage responsible reporting of the incident
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 suppor

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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